Ijeoma Kola smiling with red lipstick and touching her afro

February Q&A – Finances, Health Concerns, Black History Month & More!

Y’all went in with your questions this month – you want to know it all! From finances in my marriage, to accessing Cohort Sistas, and how I’m dealing with these crazy COVID times, and plenty of career, motherhood and style questions in between. Check out the answers everything you asked in February 2021!

Personal

Q&A

  • Are you always in a good mood?

    Not at all! I just tend not to get on social media when I’m in a bad mood lol. Keep in mind that everyone’s social media is their highlight reel!

  • Would you say that you have tribal beliefs that help you understand your faith in a fuller way?

    This is an interesting question! But no, I don’t think I have any tribal beliefs at all, so no tribal beliefs that influence my faith.

  • What are your strengths?

    I am a HUSTLER. I am not afraid of doing the work necessary to get things done, which is both a strength and a weakness because I have trouble delegating tasks and being more efficient with my time. Another strength is that I am a sponge. I can teach myself anything — I’ve taught myself coding, graphic design, marketing, management, photography, you name it. Whatever skill I need to do whatever needs to get done, I will learn it.

  • How old are you?

    30.

  • What does Black History Month mean to you? And what was it like growing up in an African household?

    I shared a lot about what Black History Month and the women in Black history who have shaped me in this series! I also talked about some of the challenges I faced (or thought I was facing) growing up in this article.

  • Great inspirational Black women series! I thought you would have done Michelle Obama.

    I was actually debating between Michelle Obama and Oprah! And while Michelle Obama’s impact is quite inspiring, Oprah’s philanthropy and long-time influence won out.

  • I loved your series on women who have shaped you. You are a woman who is shaping me!

    Thank you so much!!

  • What is one significant thing, besides academics, that you did in your late teens or early twenties that aided the success you have today?

    Really good question. I think that spending every summer working somewhere away from home was integral in my maturation process and ability to be self-sufficient. I very well could have still chosen to live at home, and while that makes sense for some people, getting that early taste of having to live and survive on my own, even just for a few months at a time every summer, definitely helped me grow up and be financially self-sufficient.

  • First, I love you! I’m curious, why don’t you want to be referred to as Dr Mrs, just Dr?

    Thank you! If my husband had a doctorate, nobody would call him Dr. Mr., they would just call him Doctor. So if the doctor title surpasses the mister title, it should also surpass the misses title.

  • What is your view on LGBTQIA?

    I answered that question before here but I don’t believe people should be discriminated against for who they are, and that includes their gender and sexual identity.

  • I don’t want to trigger sadness, but how did you deal with your fibroids? I’m 29 with no fibroids treatment yet.

    Thanks for the consideration! I actually didn’t do anything about them. I had extra ultrasounds thoughout my pregnancy to track their growth, and they grew and shrunk and various times. Luckily, the biggest one moved out of the way by the time I was ready to give birth, so I didn’t have to have them removed. They weren’t painful (I didn’t even know they existed before I got pregnant) before or after pregnancy so I’ve kind of stopped thinking about them.

  • Do you ever get paranoid about your health? Especially during this pandemic?

    Absolutely. Especially because my son can’t wear a mask, so it’s up to us to stay protected to protect him. There was a day in December when I had a terrible fever and chills and was really scared that I had COVID but I actually just fell sick because I was so sleep deprived. It was a wake-up call.

  • Where do you see yourself at the end of 2021 in terms of goals, being a content creator and influencing Black people?

    I actually don’t see myself influencing by the end of 2021. My goal is to be able to do Cohort Sistas either full-time or in conjunction with research and speaking opportunities, and have my income be from that. While I might continue content creating, I think it will look different from how it looks now. I’m still thinking it through and will probably talk more about it soon, but you’re getting the preliminary thoughts!

  • What are your hobbies?

    I love reading and have since I was a little kid. I also really enjoy home decor but have been kind of in a rut because I don’t know if we’re staying in our apartment so I don’t want to invest any time making any additional changes. I haven’t had much time for hobbies this 2021 though, sis has been busy!

  • Do you mentor people? I would like to be mentored.

    I currently mentor people through the Cohort Sistas Sista Circle program, our semester-long small group mentorship program that pairs 3-4 women with a mentor. I do however answer people’s questions via email, so if you have a specific question, feel free to email me!

  • I just want to congratulate you on your achievements! Keep shining sis!

    Thank you!

Motherhood & Marriage

Q&A

  • Did you sleep train TBK?

    Yes. You can read more about it in these posts.

  • What’s your baby’s name?

    Shared here.

  • What made you change your mind about posting your baby’s face online?

    Answered that last month!

  • Did you ever shave TKB’s hair? What do you use on his hair?

    No, we haven’t done anything to his hair except I snipped a few loose strands on his birthday so his pictures could look nice lol. He actually needs a bit more shaping since his hair grows like mine — the back is super long! His hair routine is here.

  • I know you have some toys on the blog. Can you tell us if you’re still purchasing from the same companies for TKB?

    Yes! We still use the Monti Kids subscription box. It’s convenient having toys to introduce to him in a progression and we see him gradually understand how to use them. We don’t have time to implement Montessori learning strategies at home with him so it’s nice to have that integrated in his toys. We’re currently waiting for the Level 5 Box for months 14-17 to arrive! This isn’t quite a toy but he also still used his Lovevery play gym as a little fort to hide in sometimes.

    He did get a few toys for his birthday, and one he uses a lot is this piano. He really likes holding my finger to bang the keys rather than using his own hands for some reason lol.

  • What kept you from taking medication during childbirth? Was it your will or the support you had? Did it feel impossible at times?

    It felt impossible about halfway through! I actually asked for an epidural and the nurse said it was too late. But I took a hypnobirthing class with Jonathan ahead of time that gave him strategies to help keep me calm and breathing well. Although I kept telling him I don’t care lol. Having my mom there was also really comforting.

  • What is the ideal number of kids you’ve always wanted?

    I’ve always wanted 3 but now I think I’m good with just 1 of each gender so if the next one is a girl I’m petitioning Jonathan to close up shop haha.

  • I am a single mother and it is so hard. I need some encouragement.

    Girl you are THE REAL MVP! The GOAT (greatest of all time) of motherhood! I pray you get the support that you need from your tribe.

  • What have you learnt about marriage that you weren’t told about in pre-marital counseling?

    Pre-marital counseling didn’t talk about how a marriage can change after kids. I don’t think it necessarily should (not all couples want children), but it would have been nice to have a heads up about some of the things that can change.

  • Do you and Jonathan argue?

    Of course! What couple doesn’t?

  • From being in a long distance relationship to meeting, did you and your husband have a lot of issues?

    I wouldn’t say a lot of issues. The biggest challenge we dealt with during our relationship was figuring out how we would be physically together. Second to that was navigating my parents’ initial disapproval.

  • How do you handle finances in your marriage?

    I think this has been asked before but it probably deserves a full blog post or video since it’s coming up again. We have a joint bank account, credit cards, and savings account and separate business accounts for our individual business ventures. All our family and personal expenses come out of our joint bank account, except for my clothing purchases, which I consider as part of my business expenses since I essentially get dressed for the blog & social.

Read more family related content here.

School, Work & Finance

Q&A

  • How did you feel when you finished your degrees? I just finished my MSc degree and I feel completely empty. I don’t know if I should do a PhD or get a job.

    Post-school emptiness is a real feeling! I think if I had not been pregnant when I finished my PhD I would have gone through a bigger identity crisis than the one I went through. I think you have to find meaning in your life outside of your identity as a student or scholar; that helps that feeling of emptiness once you’re finished with school.

  • Any tips on how to survive through school? Sis has 3 more degrees to go!

    Ooh sis! Three tips:

    1. Find your support system to get you through school. People who will hype you up and remind you why you’re doing it in the first place on the days you want to quit.
    2. Be strategic about your soft and experiential skills outside of the classroom. Knowledge alone is not enough to secure employment once you finish. You need people skills and a network, so start cultivating those along the way.
    3. When you doubt yourself, channel the confidence of a mediocre white man!
  • Do you have advice for someone getting ready to start their dissertation?

    I’m not sure if you mean the research stage or writing stage, but for writing, what worked for me is working backwards. I figured out roughly how many pages each chapter needed to be, knew when it needed to be done, and with that info figured out a weekly word count I had to hit if I was going to finish. I also had a writing accountability buddy!

  • What are the rates for tapping into the wealth of knowledge in Cohort Sistas?

    Not sure I understand. It’s free to join Cohort Sistas!

  • Any advice for someone who’d love to benefit from the Cohort Sistas program, but can’t afford it?

    Cohort Sistas is free. The Sista Circle mentorship program is an additional monthly cost, but there are many resources, workshops, and opportunities to learn and receive advice at no cost. We’re fundraising to be able to offer scholarships for the mentorship program, but we also want people who are in the program to be really invested in their growth, and data shows that people are more invested in things when they pay for them, even if the fee is nominal.

  • How can I get a scholarship to study an MSc in public health in the US?

    Google “Masters of science in public health scholarships in the US”. But it sounds like you’re not in the US currently, so you should be aware that there are VERY few scholarships available for master’s level education and fewer available for non-US citizens.

  • I’m struggling with focusing on my assignments in grad school. Any tips on how to manage?

    Getting work done right now is hard. Here’s my latest advice on productivity.

  • Any suggestion for a PhD scholarship for a construction program entry?

    I don’t have knowledge of every PhD scholarship available. So unfortunately, no.

  • How did you narrow down your coursework during your PhD research?

    Outside of my requirements, I took courses that were related to what I wanted to write about in my dissertation. I essentially chose courses that would help provide reading lists for my comp exams or literature reviews.

  • Would you consider lecturing in a university?

    Yup. I’d like to try at some point as its one of the reasons I applied to postdocs.

  • Which is easier, being an entrepreneur CEO or being an employee CEO?

    What is an employee CEO? Do you mean the difference between someone who is the founder & CEO and someone who is hired into a CEO role? If so, I have no knowledge of the latter so I don’t have an answer or opinion.

  • Are you still the major income earner for your family?

    Yup! I’m actually the sole source of income for our family right now.

  • Would you be able to live comfortably with your influencer salary, without your husband’s salary?

    My husband isn’t paying himself a salary right now (he’s building a startup) and my influencer salary supports us, so yes. His previous salary helped pad our savings and give us stock though, so much of our assets are a result of his previous income.

  • When and how did you start making money off blogging?

    When: in 2010 when I started making YouTube videos.

    How: first my monetizing my YouTube channel with ads, then by monetizing my blog with ads, then by doing affiliate sales and brand partnerships.

  • How did you handle money as a single woman, while dating, and in marriage?

    I handled money the same way throughout. I’ve always believed in earning my own money and being fiscally responsible, so I lived within my means, saved what I could, and paid off my credit cards every month. I didn’t really date post-college since I was in a long-distance relationship, so I didn’t think about who was going to pay for meals or vacations (although I did pay my own way for any trips we went on). In marriage we combined accounts, but since we’re both entrepreneurs we have our separate business accounts and pay ourselves salary from there (I pay myself a salary that is deposited into our personal account every month). I have more info about my financial mindset in this post, but I’m planning on sharing more in March!

Read more school & work content here.

Style, Hair & Beauty

Q&A

  • Will you ever try contacts? Or are you sticking to glasses?

    Anytime you see me without glasses, I’m wearing contacts. I can’t see past my arm without either of them!

  • Would you recommend getting a nose ring?

    I think this is a personal decision. I loved having a nose ring and can’t wait to repierce my nose!

  • Did you undye your hair?

    You can’t un-dye your hair. My hair color grew out, but I’m planning on dyeing it again once my postpartum re-growth is a bit stronger.

  • How do you maintain your hair being out? It’s a struggle for me!

    I have over 100 videos on my YouTube channel about natural hair care. On a daily basis, I really just put on a bonnet and go to sleep, wake up in the morning and fluff.

  • What products are you using in your hair right now to keep it from drying out?

    I cycle through products all the time. I’m really trying to finish old products that I’ve had for a while so most recently (two nights ago) I used Cantu Shine & Hold Mist and Original Moxie Shape Shifter to retwist my hair.

  • What skincare products do you usually use on your face?

    I recently shared my current skincare routine and go-to products, check out that post here!

  • Still rocking lippies during COVID?

    Only when I have a photoshoot.

Read more style, hair & beauty content here.

Blogging & Content Creation

Q&A

  • How did you start sharing online? I’m struggling with putting myself out there.

    Here’s the very first piece of content I ever put out on the internet. I just started. Didn’t overthink it. Didn’t get in my head. Didn’t worry about what people would think or say. I just started.

  • How do I start influencing with my online presence?

    You just start sis. Start sharing the products you love and use regularly. Start taking interesting pictures. Start curating your feed. Start using affiliate links. Just start.

  • Who are some of your favorite Kenyan content creators?

    Aside from scrolling through Instagram, I don’t read anyone’s blog or watch anyone’s YT really anymore, but a few accounts I really like for a variety of reasons are Patricia Kihoro, The Cultured Cow, Sharon Mundia, and Joy Kendi.

  • No question, just saw the blue check mark. Ooo weee!!!

    You’re late to the party sis (haha!) but thanks!

Read more blogging content here.

Living in Kenya

Q&A

  • Now that you’ve been in Kenya for a while, have you changed in any way?

    I actually have my 3rd video reflecting on my time in Kenya going live this weekend! I made one after 6 months and this one is my 1.5 year reflection.

  • Have you made any Kenyan friends yet?

    Yes, I have!

  • Have you found a community of women who have doctorates in Kenya?

    Independently no, but I also haven’t been looking for that community specifically here. However there are a bunch of Kenyan women in Cohort Sistas!

  • Do you attend an international or local church in Nairobi?

    We attend Nairobi Chapel (virtually!). Not sure how that’s categorized in your book.

  • How is life in Nairobi these days during COVID?

    I never know how to answer questions like this. It’s the same as life anywhere, so I would imagine. I only leave my house to go for Friday lunch dates with Jonathan, weekend walks, the very occasional hangout with a friend, to buy groceries, get my hair or nails done, or to visit my mother in law.

  • Do you speak any Swahili? Do you feel at home in Kenya?

    Also answered in this weekend’s life in Kenya update video!

Balance & Productivity

Q&A

  • How do you cope with the pressures of life and take care of your mental health?

    I don’t have a ton of pressures right now, especially ones that aren’t self-imposed. Most of my stress comes from overworking myself because I have very specific goals and dreams. But I try to eat nutritiously, move my body a few times a week, indulge in skincare, watch TV, and take the occasional long bath.

  • How do you manage your femininity with being a PhD and setting boundaries?

    I don’t think I’ve ever thought about the need to manage my femininity. Not sure how to answer this question!

  • Can you share your schedule for next Monday?

    Also confused by this! I’m going to wake up, do my work, eat some meals, and go to sleep lol.

Read more about balance & productivity here.

As always, thanks so much for sending in your great questions! Please keep in mind that the more specific your question, the easier it is for me to answer. Stay tuned to my Instagram stories if you’d like to ask me a question for my March Q&A!

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