Happy October friends, and welcome to the beautiful new Q&A post layout, where you can just click on a question to open up the answer! Tons of questions to get through so no long intro, but thank you to everyone who submitted questions!
Blogging and Content Creation
I’m very passionate about relationships and intend to start a blog, how do I start?
You just start! Start writing micro blogs by writing longer captions on Instagram, or wherever you currently share your thoughts with the world. That’s a really low pressure way to blog without investing any time or money. When you’re ready to create your own standalone blog, refer to this post on how to start a blog.
Best advice for a new blogger/influencer?
Focus on consistently creating content that provides value to your audience.
How long did it take you to master HTML?
I don’t think I’ve mastered HTML at all. Before I got my site professionally designed and did the backend myself, I just googled anything I needed to know and backed up my site before playing around with the HTML in case I screwed it up.
Was blogging your first job or did you ever work in corporate America?
I have never worked in corporate America full time, but blogging also wasn’t my first job. My first paid job was as an office manager for my parent’s real estate business, when I was in high school. In college I worked as a babysitter for a six year old, and ran a hair salon in my dorm room. In grad school I worked as a health educator for an after school program, a communications assistant for a non-profit, and a resident and teaching assistant for summer programs.
Would you recommend reaching out to brands via DM? Or only email?
You can use DM to find the right person’s email responsible for influencer partnerships, but you should reserve your pitches for email.
What do deliverables look like for different partnerships, both long and short term?
Most short term campaigns ask for an Instagram post and an Instagram story. For longer campaigns (more than a month), deliverables really vary based on what the brand’s needs are and also what I’m comfortable with/my schedule allows for. One three month partnership I’m currently doing involves 3 IG posts, 6 IG stories, and a video (either IG or YT). I think 1 IG post a month is reasonable for a longer campaign, and I wouldn’t do more than 2 IG posts a month for any campaign — I feel like that would annoy my audience.
How do you manage multiple partnerships at the same time?
Whew the ultimate struggle! I have a Google spreadsheet where I list the campaign, the category, deliverables, due date, post date, rate, and status of the campaign (awaiting product, shoot content, pending draft review, etc) in one line. Then I also use an editorial calendar to add campaign post dates, so that if brand x has asked for a post date of October 15th, I don’t accept a campaign with that same post date. I recently started using Asana to further manage my campaigns, and use the subtasks to set due dates for signing contracts, submitting concepts, taking photos, submitting drafts, sending analytics, and recording payment. It’s a lot to manage but I’ve come up with a system that works for me.
Do you use your Sony camera for both pictures and You Tube videos and vlogs?
If I’m taking photos myself, I use my Sony camera. For YouTube videos and vlogs I usually use my Canon vlog camera since it has a flip up LCD screen, but I feel like my video quality isn’t as sharp as I’d like it to be with that camera, so I’ve also started using my iPhone sometimes for videos (also because my cameras are never charged!).
Is there a reason you stopped posting your annual blog income reports?
They were time consuming to create and I didn’t see the benefit of sharing them anymore. I feel like income reports are helpful for bloggers or business coaches whose business is telling people how to make money blogging, since it’s proof of concept that their strategies work for themselves. But I don’t have a calling or passion for helping others make money blogging so it didn’t make sense for me to share my annual salary in the same way that the average person (non-blogger) also doesn’t share their annual salary.
How do you get people to enjoy educational productive content?
That’s a tough one. People mostly want to be entertained and inspired, and although they also want to learn, they don’t want to feel like they’re in school (unless they’ve specifically signed up for a course). So you have to mask/pretty up educational content either using graphics or compelling lifestyle photography to get people to pay attention. Chinny and Mattie both do this really well so I’d study their pages!
Have you done any collaborations with any Kenyan brands so far? If so, any lessons learnt?
I haven’t done any yet but I’m embarking on my first one next week! What I’ve observed so far with my interactions with Kenyan brands though have been a desire for many more posts than I’m comfortable with (like an IG post per week), so between that and budget, a number of collaboration talks with Kenyan brands have fallen through.
How do you feel about influencer opportunities in Kenya?
How do you deal with being consistent with blogging when you are failing in your ‘serious’ job or studies?
Well you have to have your priorities straight. If your blog isn’t making any money and your “serious” job pays you, then your consistent blog posts are not going to help you if you get fired. Time management and proper planning are major keys to balancing your blog with school or work.
Can you be my blog mentor?
I’m focusing on mentorship for Black women pursuing doctoral studies right now, so I’m not able to do any blogger mentoring, but I have a number of advice posts for beginner bloggers. Hayet, Vic, Mattie, and Monroe also do various forms of blogger mentoring/coaching so you can check them out as well!
You were looking for an intern last year. How did it go?
Great, we’re coming up on our one year workiversary soon! I’ve also added 3 new members to the Ijeoma Kola team, so its about to be lit!
Dieting and Fitness
How much do you weigh? Are you actively on a weight loss journey?
I just weighed myself this morning since Fridays are my weigh in days on WW, and I weigh 67.9 kg or 150 pounds. I’m not on a weight loss journey, but I am on a feeling good about my body journey. I’ve never cared about my weight (even while pregnant), but I do focus on whether I feel frumpy and whether my clothes fit me well.
I get obsessive about weighing myself when trying to lose weight. How often do you step on the scale?
I didn’t own a scale until about 3 or 4 weeks ago, and I only bought one because as a WW partner, one of the campaign requirements is we adhere to the program with due diligence, and the program suggests that you weigh yourself once a week. So that’s what I do now, I weigh myself on Fridays first thing in the morning. Having a set time each week or month to weigh yourself I think is less stressful than hopping on the scale whenever you’re feeling either excited or nervous about how your body feels.
Do you have a workout routine?
Not currently. I try to take long walks (45 minutes or more) over the weekends while babywearing, and then I try to move my body for at least 15 minutes 3x during the week. One of the things I like about WW is that there are workouts within the app due to their partnership with FitOn, so it’s easy to find some activity to do, whether its yoga or a butt sculpting workout or full body hiit. Pre-pregnancy I did go to a bootcamp workout class 3x a week and I’d love to get back in the gym to get stronger and more sculpted but we’re also in a pandemic and being healthy is much more important to me than having abs.
Did you feel pressured by social media to bounce back to your pre-pregnancy weight?
I don’t think I felt pressured by social media itself, but by the fact that I present myself on social media regularly, if that makes sense. So I wanted to “look like myself” online, which meant fitting into the clothes that I already had and wanted to wear. So I put some pressure on myself to get back to my original shape pre-baby.
What is your diet like?
I eat anything and everything! On WW there is no dieting, you can eat whatever you want, as long as you balance it out over the rest of the day and week. I’ve found the point system to be really easy to follow, and I feel very satisfied with my meals. On a regular day, I usually have either 2 slices of whole wheat toast and an egg or oatmeal, peanut butter, and an apple for breakfast. For lunch I’ll have either rice, quinoa, or whole wheat pasta and some kind of meat with either cooked veggies or lettuce. For dinner I’ll have something similar but with a different meat. I’m not much of a snacker or dessert person (I’d much rather have more meat than a cookie), but I try to have 1 or two pieces of fruit in a day as well as a handful of nuts.
Style, Beauty, and Hair
Please share the deets of those eyelashes!
I got them done at Marielyne Beauty in the Valley Arcade Mini Mall! I have a vlog from the first time I got them done.
Where did you get your current glasses?
My glasses are by Burberry, the style number is BE2276 transparent. I got them at an optician in New Jersey two years ago!
Braces or invisalign?
I’m not sure if this question is asking which I had or which I’d recommend but I had braces in high school. If I wanted to straighten my teeth as an adult I’d probably go with invisalign.
Where did you get your spring twists done and how much was it?
I’m not comfortable sharing where I got my hair done because I can’t in good faith recommend them (it’s been two weeks and 1 twist has fallen out, and many feel like I’ve had the style for 6 weeks already), but the labor and hair together was, I think, 5k. I had a bunch of other services done too including nails, pedi, braid take down, wash, and blow dry, and the bill was 10k, but if I remember correctly the hair for the twists was 2k and the labor was 3k.
Living In Kenya
Have your business opportunities grown or taken a cut since you moved to Kenya?
Both. They’ve grown because my audience has grown, but a few opportunities are no longer possible because I am not based in the US.
Have you learned Swahili? Do you take a Swahili speaker when you go shopping or are you used to paying foreigner prices?
I’ve only learned a bit of Swahili (like kidogo), but I haven’t gone shopping anywhere that required bringing someone along to haggle for me. I don’t really shop outside of groceries and home decor, and those places don’t exactly haggle.
Is the quality of life in Kenya better than what living in Nigeria would have been like?
No way for me to know since I haven’t lived in Nigeria other than whan I was a baby.
Graduate School and Career
Did you party in graduate school? Like go to clubs or lounges?
I went out a fair amount, maybe once or twice a month! I was also big into day parties and would do those more so than a night out at the club.
How did you decide on what to major on in school?
I started college as a pre-med, and the only non-science major that allowed you to count your pre-med classes towards your degree was History of Science. So I majored in History of Science.
How do you recommend finding a mentor as a university student?
Go to office hours! Most professors have office hours, and by attending them regularly, even if you don’t have any real questions, is a great way to develop a relationship with an advisor. Also don’t just talk about yourself or the readings, ask them about the work that they’re currently doing, and if there’s any way you can support as an undergraduate or graduate student.
Would you advise a recent graduate to pursue further studies and get it out of the way or work?
My answer to this will forever be give yourself a break after your first degree to get your money together and figure out what you want out of life! More fleshed out reasons here.
What are the skills that a foreign dentist should develop before applying for an MPH?
I’m not 100% sure what the criteria are for MPH admissions, since that’s not a degree I pursued, so I don’t think I’m qualified to answer this one! My hunch is that as long as you demonstrate an understanding of the importance of a public health or population approach to dentistry, then that should be enough.
What is your PhD thesis on?
I wrote about the history of asthma in Black urban America. You can learn more on my research page!
Would you ever do work as a public health consultant since you have that background?
I think I answered that in last month’s Q&A, but yes I’m open to public health consulting in the areas I have experience and interest in.
What will you be doing with Cohort Sistas in the future?
Continuing to grow it and offer more coaching, mentorship, and resources for more Black women pursuing doctorates!
How did you go about figuring out your career path in your 20s?
I didn’t actively think about my career path, because I was focused on finishing my PhD. I did make a point to try a variety of different jobs — teaching, non-profit work, development work, research — while in school to see the different skills I enjoyed exercising. I continued blogging because it was fun for me, and by the time I was finishing my PhD, I decided I wanted to spend a bit of time figuring things out and here we are.
What job opportunities are open to me with a PhD? I’ve started one and I’m now unsure.
Literally any job. ImaginePhD is a great resource for thinking through post-PhD opportunities, highly recommend their career assessment tool.
How do you cope with the anxiety that comes with being your own boss?
I don’t really have anxiety being my own boss. I’ve been hustling in one way or another since I was 17. And the alternative is to work in an environment with less flexibility and autonomy, which gives me way more anxiety than working for myself.
Reproduction, Pregnancy and Family
Thoughts on hormonal birth control vs natural family planning? What works for you?
Before we decided to try to conceive, I used Skyla, a low hormonal dosage IUD. Now we’re not using anything right now since we don’t mind having another child.
My biggest hangup is inserting a menstrual cup with medium sized nails. How do you handle it?
Yay, you’re on the menstrual cup team! It’s been a minute since I used my cup (still no periods post-baby) but I only recall one struggle with insertion due to nails. I’d experiment with different types of folds to see if one is more comfortable with your nail length.
What did you consider when deciding to have a baby? How did you and your husband know you were ready for kids? I think I’m ready but I’m terrified!
I asked Jonathan for his thoughts, and he said “idk, I just wanted a kid.” LOL. There’s no such thing as being ready for kids, because parenting will change your life, regardless of how prepared you are. The most you can do is be both financially and emotionally well as an individual and with your partner. But also keep in mind that many people have kids without planning to, and they figure it out and make it work, so don’t stress too much about whether you’re ready.
Any pressure from your or your husband’s parents to have baby #2?
Absolutely NOT lol. Nobody was even pressed for us to have baby #1. Both sides have other grandkids to keep them occupied. Benefits of not being the firstborns!
How many kids do you and your husband want to have in future?
Jonathan wants 4, I wanted 3, but after having our son, I’m also very content with just one. A girl would be cute for matching and hairstyling purposes, but otherwise I’m good.
Are you breastfeeding TKB? How was it traveling with him in terms of his feeding?
We breastfeed 3x a day now, once in the morning when he wakes up, when he wakes up from his afternoon nap, and before he goes to sleep. I did breastfeed him more on our road trip for comfort and to calm him down. But he really enjoys solids, especially real food of our plates!
What can I do to help baby crawl and stand on her own at a 11 months?
Definitely not an expert in this arena, but my suggestion is to allow your baby to have independent playtime. If they are on the floor by themselves, and given stimuli that move when they touch it, like a ball, it might encourage them to scoot around, which will eventually lead to crawling. For standing, we do assisted standing time either with him holding onto the couch or coffee table with supervision. And if he crawls to me and reaches out to be held, I’ll often pick him up to stand first before carrying him.
My 11 month old takes cereal with powdered milk. She vomits anything else. Can you help?
This is a question for your pediatrician!
After you found out you were pregnant, when did yo you start shopping for the baby?
I actually did very little shopping for the baby. The first thing I bought at around 10 weeks was this cute little onesie, but that was more so motivation to finish my dissertation and not a real outfit I wanted him to wear regularly. Because we moved to Kenya a few weeks after I finished, I also didn’t buy any baby things to ship or fly with. Most of the things we have now were purchased or gifted when we went back to the US for our baby shower, which was at 7.5 months.
What is something you have learnt about your baby’s personality that surprises or entertains you?
He’s a chatterbox! He babbles all the time. I wonder who he gets it from lol. He’s also just a really happy baby. I didn’t expect him to be so joyful.
Has it been difficult keeping romance after the baby?
Yup! I talked about how motherhood has impacted my marriage in this post.
Why were you told that you might need IVF?
You can read about our conception journey here.
Now that you are back to work, is it hard leaving your baby?
I’ve been back to work since about 8 weeks postpartum, and I’ve been working from home the whole time. The baby is also still in the house with us, so I don’t miss him. Up until last week we had a nanny part-time (3x a week), but she’s now full time now that he’s more mobile. Whenever I want cuddles, I just go and scoop him up!
Do your parents have many siblings?
My mom is one of 9, and my dad is one of 3, and has 3 half-siblings.
Friendships and Relationships
What does it take for you to consider someone as your best friend?
You know what? I actually don’t know if I can define it. There are two people I call my best friend: Keara and Jonathan, both of whom I met my freshman year of college, but didn’t get close to until senior year of college. So those friendships trump other close friendships in terms of length and the number of experiences we’ve gone through together. But in general my close friends are all people who I’ve had shared meaningful experiences with.
How would you stealthily go about setting up two people who you think would be great for each other?
I love matchmaking! Pre-COVID and pre-baby, I loved to entertain, so if I wanted to set two people up, I’d invite both of them over for dinner and a game night, but with a few other people (all taken lol) so it wouldn’t be awkward.
During a long distance relationship, who should visit first, the guy or the lady, and why?
I don’t think it matters, or rather, there are a bunch of factors that could come into play. If your LDR partner lives in an interesting and exciting place, then go ahead and visit first! My parents thought it was preposterous that I visited Jonathan in Kenya while we were dating long distance, but it turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life.
How do you find and approach people who are aligned to your values and share the same world view as you?
Ooh, such a good question! One, I try not to judge a book by its cover, because there are friends I have who didn’t scream front-pew Christians when I first met them (my vibe isn’t that either anyway), but whose values align perfectly with mine. And then just be yourself and be willing to put yourself out there and make new friends!
Could you kindly touch on girlfriend privileges in a relationship?
I don’t really understand what this means, but if you DM me and clarify I’ll update my response!
What’s your view about investing in Nigeria or Kenya? Especially in the health sector.
I don’t know enough about the economy either in Nigeria or Kenya to say anything well informed about investing in either markets.
What’s one new thing you are interested in learning or experiencing?
To be honest, I’m kind of exhausted from all the learning I did over the past twenty something years, but I’ve been telling myself that I should really perfect my Igbo so that I can teach my son. So while Igbo is nowhere near new to me, speaking it regularly is, and also speaking it with the intent of teaching my son is as well.
How was your birthday? What are you looking forward to the most this new year?
My birthday was fantastic! I’m looking forward to growing Cohort Sistas to impact more Black women pursuing doctoral studies and leaning further into my purpose!
I don’t know how to frame this, but I find you very confident. How did you build that?
I was very broken in college and spent an entire summer relearning my identity as a daughter of God. Armed with that knowledge, I became confident in who I was and what I was put on this Earth to do. Whenever I’m struggling with confidence I just remember to think and act like a mediocre white man!
What’s your IQ?
No idea. I’ve never taken an IQ test. I don’t think IQ is a meaningful measure of either intelligence or success.
When was the last time you did something for the first time?
Drove more than 6 hours in a car. Icing on the cake was doing it with a 9 month old baby!
What keeps you going?
My rich Aunty lifestyle, my full belief and confidence in my divine purpose to help other Black women, and the fact that these bills won’t pay themselves.
Have you ever been to Namibia?
Nope, but would love to go!