Voices: The Beauty of Failing Forward

Charlene Walton

Last week I announced I was closing my online retail store TEXTURES Natural Hair Care after 2 years of giving it everything I had. Before I made this decision I was terrified. What would people say? What would they think? Will I ever be taken seriously in this industry again?

Believe it or not, the Mented podcast episode on the Side Hustle Pro podcast really helped put everything into a new perspective for me. Both Amanda and KJ talked about how at Havard Business School “failing” is normalized. Students are encouraged to start things over and often. Fail. Learn from them your mistakes and keep it moving. But realistically for a woman of color, things aren’t always so black and white.

A friend recently shared a Forbes article on Facebook and I have yet to forget. Entitled, "Failure Is Not An Option: The Pressure Black Women Feel To Succeed", the article dived deep into what failure looks and feels like for women of color.

“It's well established that for men, caucasians, or caucasian women the advice given in the entrepreneurial space is "fail fast" or "fail forward." Those themes contribute to a person's ability to pivot quickly and to fine tune their iterative process. If we are honest, we know that a failure for women of color in most cases will not be looked at as a growth experience, an example of a solid risk taker, or as a method towards iteration. To the contrary, women of color who are "quick to fail" are often classified as simply "failures" and after having the label of failure affixed to women of color it becomes extraordinarily difficult - if not impossible - to shake the label or to get a second chance at a future opportunity.” - Candice Cook Simmons, Attorney/Managing Member at The Cook Law Group

After reading the quote above, the words felt like a mirror was stuck in my face and I was completely exposed. This is exactly how I felt before deciding to pull the plug but in retrospect I realize I haven’t failed at all. Failure, by definition, is the lack of success. It is the non performance of something due, expected or required. When I truly break down what this means and look back on my two years of running TEXTURES Natural Hair Care I actually don't see failure at all. Success is building an e-commerce website by yourself without any help. Success is cultivating relationships in the beauty industry and getting some of the best brands to take a chance on your business idea. Success is being featured in The Root, making it to the finalist round of a Fed Ex Small Business Grant Competition, and winning a Trademark case against a multimillion dollar company. Success is also, as my fiance continues to remind me, having the balls to go out and work towards your dreams versus being scared to ever start.

So now I’m deciding to fail forward and I’m finding beauty and more confidence every step of the way. Failing forward means regaining self care time. Stress, depression and weight gain is not a good combination so I'm most looking forward to getting my health back on track. I’m also excited to take the time and focus on finding more beauty brands for women of color since I’ve conquered hair care. Here the top 3 lip colors I’m loving and wearing right now.

1. Mented - “Nude La La” (Duh!)

Whether I’m heading to a meeting at my 9 to 5 to present multi-million dollar budgets or I’m on a cute date night with my fiancé, Nude La La never disappoints. The color isn’t too distracting for work and the boo loves the natural color on my lips. So not only do I feel confident, I feel sexy as well which is always a win! I’m sure many of you who have this color feel the same way.

2. Lip Fetish Cosmetics - “Beau”

There’s something about a red lip that makes a girl feel like she’s in charge and making boss moves. This is my go-to lip if I’m attending a networking event or having a night out with the girls. I like this lip color because it makes a statement. This color says “I’m here and not playing games!”  Love it!

3. The Lip Bar - “Boy Trouble”

The name says it all, but this is my go-to color when I feel like being wild & fun! I don’t wear loud colors often but when I do I find myself thinking that I should. Orange has long been considered my power color simply because I receive so many compliments whenever I wear it in clothing or makeup. I know I have a small artsy side but this color really gets my creative juices flowing.

Instead of being crippled by closing this chapter of ending a business, I realize how lucky I am to have done so many things in such a short time frame. I'm even luckier that I can now take away learning lessons from from this experience so my next move can be even greater and smarter. The beauty of failing forward means realizing you have time to focus on so many other things that also matter. And that’s exactly what I intend to do going forward.

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