How to Find Your Inner Beauty and Confidence

Joining me on the podcast today is a super successful entrepreneur who knows a lot about battling low self-confidence and learning to appreciate her own beauty. Jeannell Darden is the Founder & CEO of Moisture Love.  It’s been quite a journey from a chance encounter at a natural hair store in Downtown Durham to the podcast, but I’m delighted that Jeannell finally made it.

Getting comfortable with your own beauty is a complicated and life-long process. Jeannell breaks down how she has worked on this (and continues to work on this) at several different points in her life. Her story will inspire you and help you see how you have been ignoring your own magic.

In this episode we discussed:

  • How she went from Engineering to Entrepreneurship
  • Why she kept damaged hair for 3 years and what she did when she finally cut it
  • Why you shouldn’t make promises you can’t keep
  • How she got to a place where she accepted her beauty
  • How she grew more confident in her appearance
  • How I made her eyeballs sweat
  • How to raise confident girls and what this leads to
  • The advice she would give to her 17-year-old self

Who is Jeannell Darden?

Jeannell Darden Founder of Moisture LoveJeannell Darden is a former Georgia Tech engineer and Founder & CEO of Moisture Love, a brand that helps women experience a higher love for their hair with products that infuse hydration into every strand, so they can experience true moisture that lasts.

She has a B.S. in Industrial & Systems engineering with a focus on Economic Decision Analysis from the Georgia Institute of Technology. She’s had extensive experience in consumer products, real estate, and business management consulting. She’s always had a passion for beauty and entrepreneurship and after making the decision to stop chemically treating her hair in 2005, she recognized a void in the natural hair care industry and began researching and developing her own product line.

Moisture Love is a collection of products that help women fall in love with their hair again. The brand is a platform that empowers women to confidently embrace their beauty, starting with building a loving relationship with their hair. She recently launched an initiative, Moisture Love Gives, to give away 1 product for every product sold, to organizations that support young girls from ages 8-13.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Allegra Sinclair 0:05

Welcome to the Your Confident Self podcast with Allegra Sinclair. Get ready to punch fear in the throat and gain confidence like never before. I help corporate women get the confidence to ask for the job they want, and do the work they love. Isn't it time you got unstuck and showed the world how fabulous you are?

Allegra Sinclair 0:30

Hey, welcome to this week's episode of the podcast. Today I am speaking with someone who I have known for years and who I knew within five minutes of meeting her I wanted to have her on my show. It's just taken us a minute for this to happen. But about five years ago, I did my first of several big chops with my hair. My thyroid had lost its mind and it was no longer holding perms. And I said okay, "How about I listen to you instead of trying to perm you every three weeks?"

Allegra Sinclair 1:00

So I went to an event in downtown Durham at a natural hair place. And it was just one of those divine appointments because they were doing a demo of a product called Coco Curls. So my mom and my sister and I cruised down there to find out more about natural hair. And we thought, okay, we go in here, we listen to a really brief bio of the founder of the company, and then we'd buy some stuff and leave, but that is not what happened at all.

Allegra Sinclair 1:03

What happened was a magical hour and a half of shared wisdom and stories. It was like a party. It was like we knew you immediately. My mom fell in love. She's like, I don't even have natural hair, but whatever she's got, we're getting it.

Allegra Sinclair 1:47

It was so much fun. And I have remembered this woman ever since that moment when we became a fan of those products. She's going to tell us a little bit about her production evolution and what the product is like now, but I knew from the stories that she was telling about her life and growing up and tapping into her confidence that my audience needed to hear from her.

Allegra Sinclair 2:13

So my guest today is Jeannell Darden, and she is the founder, magician, and empress of Moisture Love hair products. But before that she was a trained engineer at Georgia Tech. So she went from being an engineer to creating a brand so that women can experience a higher love for their hair, with products that infuse hydration into every strand, so they can experience true moisture that lasts. Doesn't that just sound like all sorts of self care and love as I describe it? So, please help me welcome Jeannell Darden. Hey, Janelle.

Jeannell Darden 2:58

Hey Allegra! Such a fabulous heartwarming introduction.

Allegra Sinclair 3:04

Well, I am so excited that you are here because I obviously have thought about this since that moment in Hairizon. Isn't that what the place was called?

Jeannell Darden 3:14

Yes, yeah.

Allegra Sinclair 3:25

So, tell us a little bit about starting your haircare company, kind of where that impetus came from, and how you went from Coco curls, which is what I knew first to Moisture, Love.

Jeannell Darden 3:39

Yeah, so the evolution has pretty much been a lifelong journey. My mom was a cosmetologist, and at nine, you know, everyday children, learn how to clean bathrooms and vacuum and sweep, but I learned how to do hair and that then became my job to do my hair, my mom's hair, my sister's hair every Saturday, because we have to walk to church looking a certain way, my father's a minister, and we couldn't walk in looking busted. So I had to make sure everybody was snatched together.

Jeannell Darden 4:16

I'm the oldest of four, and my mom ran a very efficient, operationally efficient house. So that's where I first was introduced to hair. And I thought it was just the most awful thing in the world, and I hated it. But somewhere in between that process, I learned to love it and I learned to enjoy the process and to see how it came out and how I could do this. And I didn't know that was one of my first lessons in life that you know, God is preparing me for what I need before I even know I need it.

Jeannell Darden 4:46

Because in high school, I was a cheerleader. I was in a band and I ran.But I wanted to have my own money. And I started doing hair on the side. That was my side hustle. That was my income and so much so that I thought that I could just do whatever with my hair. And my mom gave me a relaxer and then I went to Jamaica with my dad for something, a family trip or something like that. And I had the bright idea to color my hair, and was not even barely two weeks. And I had long hair, but it was very thin and so it broke off.

Jeannell Darden 5:24

And so for three years into my tenure at Georgia Tech, I was holding on to this broken hair because I struggled with feeling beautiful because I was dark skinned and all my siblings were light skinned and I felt like my hair is what made me beautiful. And so when it was broken, it was the first kind of like crack in my identity. And so at the three year mark of just kind of dealing with this damaged hair, I kind of had this come-to-Jesus, I am not my hair, let's get over ourselves moment and just decided to go natural.

Jeannell Darden 6:00

I transitioned for six months, and at the time while I was transitioning, I read, I was taking an African-American entrepreneurship class, and read Madame CJ Walker's book. And I felt so inspired by the fact that she could do it in the early 1900s. So I said, surely if you can do it, than I can do it, and I decided to embark on making products. I wasn't a chemistry major and actually I didn't even like chemistry. Chemistry was the first class I had a "C" in in life and I was devastated and I said I was never gonna touch chemistry again. So that's when I started learning to not make promises, that I can't keep.

Jeannell Darden 6:05

What I learned is I don't test God because what I say I'll never do he is gonna find me right back to it. That's when I decided to launch a product and that was around 2007. It took me about four years to get the confidence to do it. And in 2011, after we had gotten married, got pregnant a lot sooner than we wanted, to have to work a job because we we didn't have the income set aside that we wished we had. I'm gonna have to drop my oldest daughter off at daycare. And the turning moment was when she started crying when we dropped her off, like the like the lady does in the scary movie and like falling out and crying and she gets dragged off by the villain. That's what happened every time we dropped her off.

Jeannell Darden 6:50

I had a major internal struggle about that because I was working for a family-owned company, working for a family-owned business. And they would have their children and grandchildren come in and take classes to prepare to take over the company. And I started feeling down in my heart that we didn't have that, my parents didn't have it to give it to us. While my child is being dropped off I'm building their children's trust funds and paying for their Lamborghinis and whatever else. So, that hit me so hard in the gut. And although I loved that company, I just couldn't take what she was going through and I quit over the course of a weekend and I launched my business within a matter of a month. And that was Coco Curls. That's a brand that you knew.

Allegra Sinclair 7:41

Yes, I knew that brand and I know the new one. Wow, there was so much yummy stuff in there. I just want to go back and take each little individual piece and make a sandwich out of it. There were several things that I wanted to touch on, because there was so much, it was just so deep and subterranean. But the part about you going through several years of dealing with damaged hair because you thought your hair was your beauty, girl, that just hit me in my very soul. Because if you had cut it, or stopped working against it at any point in that three years, it would have changed your life.

Allegra Sinclair 9:16

So I think it's such an amazing metaphor for us holding onto things in life that we know we should let go of. It's hurting us. It's unhealthy. We're just done with it. Sometimes we just outgrow stuff. But the fact that you went through three years of fighting with and struggling to hold onto damaged hair. Phew. Because it's an easy thing to talk about damaged hair.The fact that you thought your hair was your beauty is so compelling.

Jeannell Darden 9:48

Right. I mean, you pulling that piece out of my story reminded me of things that I'm going through now like man, let it go.

Allegra Sinclair 10:00

When we're done with something, we keep trying to bring it back to life. And sometimes we just need to be done. And it's very easy to see that. I am just like, I have goosebumps hearing that story about hair, because I think of other things, not necessarily hair. But, when I first said to myself, okay, my thyroid is acting crazy, because in between my hairdresser who I'd seen for years, and she is a whiz, with all types of hair, so this wasn't shade at my hairdresser. But I would see her every Thursday at seven. And then I would see her at church on Sunday, and she'd be like, um, let me talk to you for a minute. And I'm like, No, this is not on me. This is what my hair does. But she was like, no. I had a curl forever, right, so I did come from a place of hair neglect. I had a curl and then braids. So, I'm not great at hair, but this was not on me.

Allegra Sinclair 10:54

So one time I went there on Thursday, and then I went back to her place Friday morning at seven so she could see what was happening because all I did was, you know, go to my workday and go to bed and came back the next day and she touched my head. She's like, okay, something else is going on here. And I was like, see, you've been talking so badly about me. But once I realized that my hair wouldn't hold a perm anymore, there was all this damaged hair on my head. But there were conversations I had with women in my family about not cutting hair. So my mom had stories when she was young, right? She grew up in the south and there was the paper bag test. So she had some feelings of not being as desirable because her sisters might have been lighter skinned who girl that's a whole podcast in and of itself. Oh, but the other thing for her was you don't cut your hair, right? You need to have hair and my father's Jamaican, so he was always down with the short, natural, that's what he was accustomed to.

Allegra Sinclair 11:53

So there was always this tension about hair. But when my hair was damaged, and my thyroid said, we're winning this war, let it go, I said, Okay, we're doing the big chop and my hairdresser was like what? And I was like, cut it off. She's like, wait cut all your hair?! And I was like yes honey, what part are you not getting. Cut it, it will grow back. She had not been through that with me before. she'd seen me with my wild Angela Davis long flow fro and I was like, Girl, it's just not that deep to me, chop it. She wouldn't cut it. I went to another hairdresser and I did the big chop girl. I was happy as a pig in mud, but so many people around me. didn't know what to do. It was like they didn't know me without hair. Did you go through that as well?

Jeannell Darden 12:38

I went through that. So when I transitioned for six months, and when I did decide to cut it, when at the natural phase, I came home because I was in school at Georgia Tech and I went home to Augusta and I asked my mom to cut it and she looked at me sideways because she knew the Jeannell that didn't even want to get a trim. Now, when it was time for a trim, I was like you can cut a quarter of an eighth of an inch at the most, don't go further than that. She thought I had lost my mind or I was gonna have a little meltdown, I don't know. She was very trepidatious to do it, but I insisted. Now I did cry, once that hair was cut, and I did save that hair in a bag, like in a little ziploc bag with all my hair supplies for months.

Allegra Sinclair 13:27

What were you planning to do with it?

Jeannell Darden 13:29

I don't know, Allegra. I don't know what my plans were but I just couldn't toss it, okay?

Jeannell Darden 13:37

You know how you have all the little cubbies with all your hair supplies? But I didn't have personal people saying things about my hair being cut, I had random outsiders once I did cut it because I wore a short fro, once I cut it and they were like, oh no, you're not gonna get a man like that, you can't roll up on a job like that. Because I did my big chop, I had my last perm the Christmas of 2005 and I did my big chop in 2006. So natural hair was not quite popular yet. It was coming but it was not popular yet. So people were looking at me sideways like, 'what're you doing with this little short, curly situation', and had all kinds of comments. It wasn't so much family, it was just random. . But I absorbed the negative messages from the randoms, as well.

Allegra Sinclair 14:29

Well, I think back now and I just did another big chop. So, I think this is either the third or fourth one that I have done. But this past March, I was actually gearing up to go to Arizona. This was obviously before the pandemic changed all of our lives. But I was planning to fly to Arizona for my sister's wedding. And I have carpal tunnel really bad in both arms and I really hadn't been taking great care of my hair. So I was going to the hairdresser to get it deep conditioned and into shape, like two weeks before the wedding and then I was going to go back the night before I flew for her to do it for the wedding itself. And as I was getting ready to go in there, I was like, You know what? Let's just take it all off again. And this is the first time I'm seeing this new hairdresser. She didn't argue with me, right? It's a different time. In March of 2020, she didn't argue, she didn't say Oh, are you sure?'. I was just like, hey, let's take it down. She was like, all right, and she took it down. And my girlfriend who drove me out there was like, look at all that hair on the floor. I was like, no, I'm done with it.

Allegra Sinclair 15:35

I did think for just a moment, why should I donated that hair to one of those places where they make wigs and I was like, No, why would I donate my damaged-I had been ignoring it for six months hair to some other poor soul. So yes, it was a very different time in 2020 versus when you did it in 2006.

Allegra Sinclair 15:56

Tell me a little bit about how you got to a place where you realized you were beautiful? Because you started off saying, I didn't think I was pretty because I was dark skinned and I thought my hair was my beauty. And then you took the hair. So, yeah, where'd that come from?

Jeannell Darden 16:15

Oh, wow, we're having a whole therapy session today.

Allegra Sinclair 16:20

You know how I do.

Jeannell Darden 16:23

Yeah, let's just go ahead and get in it. Um, I honestly don't remember the moment that was the turning point because it's been a journey. Um, it has not been like a sprint. It wasn't like, Oh, we crossed the line. Even yesterday, I made a post because I had, I've been you know, for real quarantining, like, you know, workout pants, t shirts, pajamas or whatever, and I put some clothes on to do a video. And I walked by and I was like, "Oh, she cute", talking about my own self! It actually catches me off guard still. And so when I made the post, and I made a post, and I was getting trepidatious to even say in the post, to call my own self, cute, in my own Instagram post, but I was like Girl, if you don't just put that out there and let that go. So I know that I'm cute now. But I am still journeying in the process of being fully involved and vibrant and worshipping of that fact because it is a process and has been a process for me.

Allegra Sinclair 17:29

Are there two things that you think were helpful, in taking you from where you were to where you are now on the journey, as far as restoring your confidence in your appearance?

Jeannell Darden 17:40

Yeah, I think the first thing for sure was eliminating the thing that I felt like was the thing that made me beautiful. And I feel like by eliminating that it made me find other things about myself that I loved, or other things about myself that I thought were great or amazing . So that was definitely one.

Jeannell Darden 18:02

Two, there was a period of time where I felt like I was just walking with God. Like, we would just be walking and talking, he was my homeboy, I'd be walking down the street, like, what's up God, what's happening? What's going on? You know, like, we just had such a very close relationship. And I feel like through that period, he allowed me to see, and he revealed to me who I was. And I feel like it's a continuous revealing of who I was. So those are the two main things that I can pinpoint that helped me get over that hump.

Allegra Sinclair 18:39

Whoo, those should both be on a T shirt. That was really, that was really good stuff. So the first thing was that you stopped relying on the one thing that you thought was it so for you that was hair, right? So removing that from the equation forced you to look around and see what else am I bringing to the party? That's kind of good, right? That's not the only thing I had going on. And the second thing I loved how you said that, that walking with God, he revealed to you who you are. That is so delicious right there. Because I think when we first met, which was at least six, it might have been seven years ago. It has to jave been that long because my mom has now been gone almost five years. So it's been a long time since we saw you first. But I remember us on the way home from there and my mom's like, Oh, she's so beautiful and I was like, I know, her skin just looks fake. Her skin is so so I'm thinking we like in the first thing. Now granted, it was in a hair place and it was all about appearance, but one of the first things we talked about was how gorgeous we thought you were.

Allegra Sinclair 19:46

So it's funny to me still to hear that you're thinking yeah, this is a journey I'm still on, but so often our magic, we. don't. see. it. So I'm grateful always for other people who will stop and take the time to let me know that they have noticed my magic. Right? So for you, you turned inward and you were like, hey, God is my home boy and we were walking and talking, and he was showing me who I really am. That is such a gift and is available to everyone. I just wish that there had been other people in your universe, who had also been able to support that for you as well.

Jeannell Darden 20:21

Well, to be fair, all my people have always supported me. My father has always told me how beautiful I was, like all the days of my life. He has told me how beautiful he thought chocolate women were and dark skinned women were and why he was so attracted to my mom. My mom told me how beautiful I was, uncles and aunts and family members and random strangers. I've always heard that. My husband has always told me how beautiful I was. But they weren't the turning point for me. And it almost felt like well, Dad, you're supposed to say this because you're my dad. Mom, you're supposed to make me feel good. Aunts and uncles, you know you love me so you want me to feel good. I always was able to justify why someone else was saying it, versus actually just absorbing and believing it. But it wasn't until I could absorb and believe it for myself that I realized when other people were saying it it was because it's genuinely what they saw.

Allegra Sinclair 21:25

Whoo, that's good too. So I love that, that there was a whole community of people who were surrounding you and pouring into you that they thought you were beautiful. And it's funny, because we do want to discount that stuff, right? Oh, well, they had to say that because they're my uncle. No, No, they don't. Because there are people listening to us right now whose uncle didn't tell them that or whose father didn't tell him that or whose mother didn't hold space for them to believe that they were beautiful until they could believe it for themselves. So I'm very grateful that you did have that community of people who were willing to see until you could see. So, let me do my little bitty, mini commercial about my hair. So I did another big chop right? But I have been using Moisture Love products like forever ever ever ever ever since I've discovered Coco Curls. As a people, we are very brand loyal. I know for like cosmetics, some people like dip and dab Not me, my family we are brand loyal.

Allegra Sinclair 22:28

I have been using moisture love for like a really long time, but it's hitting me differently in this year when I'm not getting out to the hairdresser. Right. So when was it? Juneteenth. I had been talking with a girlfriend of mine before that because she was getting a media opportunity. And they were coming to the farm that she and her husband have. And she's like, oh, and I'm looking like Frederick Douglass' sister. What am I gonna do with my hair? I hollered on voxer every day she was telling me how 'tore up' she thought she was looking and she's like, I'm gonna send you a picture. She never sent it, I didn't press her. I love her. I have known her since we were freshmen in college and she is my sister. But I knew she was not feeling confident at all.

Allegra Sinclair 23:14

Our hai is so important for our overall confidence, right? It is so she was telling me how she was looking like Frederick Douglass' sister, she wasn't feeling powerful. And it wasn't something we had been talking about. So like, what have you been doing with your hair? So then she was like, Oh, I'm just using like, you know, Dove shampoo. Oh, don't at me, Dove people. Don't @ me. My African-American sister, she's from Trinidad. No, she should not have been messing with anybody's Dove shampoo. She's like, Well, you know, I was like girl if you tell me you;re buying your hair products at Sam's Club we're gonna fight. Right over Voxer, we're gonna fight.

Allegra Sinclair 23:15

So I was telling her. It is critically important for you to use the right products for your hair, I was like you have biracial children, maybe they can use the dove shampoo, but I bet their hair would be happier, if they didn't. So why don't y'all take the Dove shampoo and give that to your husband? Hey, Marc, love him. But what I'm saying is give the products to your husband, and we're going to talk about something that's made for you. She totally poo pooed me, she doesn't usually do this. She recognizes my magic often just like I recognize hers. In this instance, she poo pooed me and I was like, Okay, so now it's a challenge.

Allegra Sinclair 24:32

So, a week or so after that conversation, the event happened. She never did send me a picture. I don't know what her hair was looking like. I know she did the best she could. Sometimes we just need to give each other grace. However, a week or so after that I got an email from you and it was about a sale that was going on. I flew to my phone, to my computer. I hit her up in every channel I had available to me and said "okay, you didn't believe me, so here's what we're gonna do. stunneYou are going to go click here and you are going to buy this and if you don't feel delighted afterwards I'ma buy it from you. You are gonna go here right now, don't pass go, don't collect $200, get thee to this link and buy these products.

Allegra Sinclair 25:18

So, she did and I was stunned. In the week before we had been talking about skincare right so she had gotten some more Mary Kay in, you know, with some moisturizing stuff because I'm like, Girl, are you using Dove on your face too? I blame myself. I haven't spent enough time with you. So, she bought the hair stuff and then she was blowing my phone up. She's like, wait, they have a deal. Should I buy two? I was like wait, you went from pimping me regularly to now trying to double up? Oh, you can double up if you want to. But I'm telling you I'ma buy the one from you if you don't love it, so she's like, okay, I'll just start with the one just to make sure I'll use it. I was like okay, fine.

Allegra Sinclair 25:57

When I tell you she emails me or voxes me or texts me or you know old -school calls me on the phone, which people really don't do now unless it's an emergency, but she will use all of her communication tools as well to tell me about her hair. It has transformed her life . She told me her husband told her he loved her even when her hair looked cray, but he likes her a whole lot more now. He's always touching it and he loves the smell. And she is sending me pictures of the styles and she just got that styling guide thing I guess with your videos. I'm telling you she is a convert and I could not be happier. I just wanted to buy her products anyway, just because the transformation brought about in her life. It is that good. But here's the thing because the products are everything. Everything? Everything!

Allegra Sinclair 26:47

For somebody who doesn't like science girl, somebody around you put their entire foot in the chemistry because it is everything. But even beyond that is the transformation, the change in her. She shows up bolder, she shows up louder. She shows up unapologetically because now she feels like her hair matches what she had going on in her mind and it is awesome to see. I don't know if you hear those stories like directly or like on Facebook or Instagram because she's not the type who's ever going to like send you a picture of before and after because I couldn't even get the before picture. But you just need to know that Susan from New York is feeling Moisture Love. Now her daughter's stealing hers so she has to buy more because now her daughter's taking it. Yes. See what you're doing?

Jeannell Darden 27:44

Oh my goodness. I'm going to need this clip right here. I'm just telling you now, I'm going to need this whole clip as a testimonial audio.

Allegra Sinclair 27:56

I will do that for you. It has changed my girlfriend's life. I have known this child for, I'm not gonna tell you how many years whoa girl I almost told you how old I was, but I'm just gonna say I have known her for a really long I have known her for more than 30 years.

Jeannell Darden 28:12

So that makes my eyeball sweat just a little bit more because our mission is genuinely to help women confidently embrace their beauty, that is our mission. And I tell people all the time that, for me it is not about the shea butter and the cocoa butter concoction that is in the jar. But it is genuinely about what you just said, women waking up and feeling different about themselves and showing up different about themselves because emotions related to our hair. We don't, we don't, you know we don't wake up in the middle of the night thinking man, I just need another shea butter concoction. We wake up in the middle of the night thinking, tomorrow I have to go here. How am I going to look? How will I feel if I look this way, am I gonna put a hair wrap on or do I need to wear a hat? And that is so deep for black women, it is so deep for us. And to hear you say that transformation, that is what I do this for. You know, that is why I work so hard and I spend the hours, I got all kinds of burn marks on my arms and legs from wasting product and burning product. But that is why and so that genuinely warms my whole heart.

Allegra Sinclair 29:25

I am so glad, because, well, mama loves to be right. I do love to be right. But in this particular instance, it wasn't that I just wanted to be right about her using the right products. It was that I knew it would change her.

Allegra Sinclair 29:41

There are changes that happen to us that we can't un-change. So let's pretend I lost 20 pounds, I could gain the 20 pounds back. But if I find that the fact that I can remember numbers and not people's names is not a weakness, but a strength, I'm forever different for knowing that about myself, right? So there's some things that are temporary and there's some things that change us forever, and I love what your product does, because of that forever change. My friend will always feel differently about how she can show up in the world. She'll always feel differently confident about how her hair belongs to her. Because you're right, for black women, for so long, our hair wasn't seen as attractive or good enough, or it was seen as too much. Right?

Allegra Sinclair 30:34

Everybody has their own different Gremlins, my Gremlin is the "too much" Gremlin, whoo my hair is too much, because it grows long and wild and crazy, right? And it's very different than the hair of the other women in my family. I remember once my sister and I both went to the same hairdresser when we first moved to a new state and the hairdresser said to me, yes, I should have cut her but I didn't because I love the Lord, she said to me, do your sister and you have the same dad? I was like, wait, what did she say? Your hair is so different. I looked at my sister and she's like, mom's gonna come up in here next week. So, I was like, Okay, fine. I'm not gonna show out. Yes asked me if we had the same father because our hair was so different, right? But even with that being the case, I am still confident in my hair in a way that I wasn't before.

Allegra Sinclair 31:26

That's why I wasn't pressed to chop it off. Or like right now when I can't do a lot with it because I have carpal tunnel. On the days when I do have to do something and I throw that Sealed with A Kiss Oil up in there, you can't tell me anything. But for us hair is important. So the right products, the knowledge of how to use them, it really is brilliant.

Allegra Sinclair 32:08

I'm grateful that you decided that you wanted to leave behind the Industrial and Systems Engineering and instead do something that would actually feed people's hair. Because it is that yummy. Tell me about your Moisture Love Gives project. So for every product sold, you give a product to an organization that supports young girls? Tell us about that.

Jeannell Darden 32:37

Yes, so I realize that with our mission being to help women confidently embrace their beauty, that starts with a child. I have a nine year old and I feel like I was telling my husband last night, you know, every conversation I have with her especially if it's negative or she's aggravating me, I'm like, oh, is that going to be the thing she remembers? Is she going to remember this when she's 35? So I'm trying to be very careful about how I give her constructive feedback. So that is not the thing that she feels some kind of way about her, her body, her beauty, her identity growing up. But I feel like this age between eight and 14 is where so much happens around your beauty. And if we can have confident girls, then we can have competent women.

Allegra Sinclair 33:28

That's brilliant.

Jeannell Darden 33:29

Yeah. And so right now and I realize especially when I look at my story, it's not so much about people around you, telling you how beautiful you are. You got to know it and feel it for yourself, because that was my challenge. I had all the people in the world telling me, but I didn't know it or feel it for myself for whatever reasons I chose to adopt. And so with Moisture Love Gives, we are looking for organizations to partner with that support young girls, and that's their entire mission. Specifically Black Girls, Hispanic and Latin girls too, but more so black girls. And what we are doing is sponsoring their events and providing products for their events, even if it's just in a goodie bag, and we could come and speak and talk about hair, that's even better, so that we can help them embrace their version of their beauty as early as possible.

Jeannell Darden 34:35

So, we've been giving to organizations along the way, but we plan on doing a really big campaign around it, in Q4 into Q1 of next year.

Allegra Sinclair 34:47

Okay. Well, I love that because one of my listeners actually reached out through Apple podcasts and left a really amazing review.Thank you, Mama-Saurus! And she asked me to talk about some specific topics, which I love, because I'm happy to do that. But one of the things she asked was how do we raise confident young girls? And I was like, I don't have any girls. And I wouldn't insult all the mothers by faking it. So that was one of the other reasons that I really wanted to talk to you. Because I thought you'd have some great tips for mothers on how you raise confident girls.

Allegra Sinclair 35:24

So one of the things I just heard you say was that you're careful how you provide constructive instruction, right, so that what you're doing isn't damaging to her later. So can you tell us a little bit more about how you think, well, how are you living out raising a confident young girl so that she can grow to be a confident woman?

Jeannell Darden 35:45

Yeah, um, I watch, one of the things that I do, because, to be honest, you know, we grew up very blunt. My mom said what she wanted to say, I naturally have always kind of said what I want to say and just kind of throw it out there. And so if I say something, I feel very connected to my children, no matter how busy I am, no matter how tired I am, no matter what is going on. The house might not get cleaned, food may not get cooked, clothes might not get washed, but if I can feel something going on with them, either health wise or emotional wise, I always feel it. And I'm always able to stop and tap in.

Jeannell Darden 36:22

And so what I do notice, sometimes, I might throw something out there and I can feel it land on her. So then even if in that moment, I don't have the opportunity to coach it, I'll come back later and ask her how she felt about it and kind of talk to her about it. Like what it meant, why I said it, what my intention was to help her process it because I don't want her, you know, holding on to it and being like, well, my mama said whatever. Because I know she's very much connected to me and what I say and what I do.

Jeannell Darden 36:54

She's nine, she was diagnosed with high blood pressure at five. We did every test imaginable to find out why and all the doctors could say is that it's essential High Bllod Pressure and it's just family history, blah, blah, blah. Her BMI is too high and she needs to lose weight. If she loses weight, her blood pressure will go down. And so, my husband was like no pizzas, no hot dogs, no salty chips, like we had to completely change her diet and she would feel devastated as a child, that she couldn't have the hot dogs at the party or the chips which I don't even feed them hot dogs but they get it from the grandmas and wherever. So she would feel devastated about it. And so I was like, 'it's for your health, we just have to make you feel better blah, blah, than my husband no shade, but he would say well, baby, if you lose weight, then you know, your blood pressurewill go down, and you'll be able to eat it. And he didn't understand how it was landing.

Jeannell Darden 37:51

And I'd be like, Listen, we can't hit it at all in the weight category. Although we know that to be a fact, it's just that women, specifically black woman, we carry stuff around that weight, and we can't have her at six years old being told to lose weight. So we were very careful and when we do say something, I try to unpack it and discuss it with her to make sure she's not feeling some kind of way.

Jeannell Darden 38:21

The other thing that I'm going to do is I'm going to get them therapy. I just started with a new therapist last week. I feel like it's important for us to destigmatize therapy. Families in other cultures have therapists on speed dial, they have a family therapist and a family psychologist that everybody goes to see and I feel like black people need to get comfortable with that. And it's okay for children to start play therapy so they can unpack whatever it is that they're dealing with. Like you said, we all have our Gremlins and those Gremlins start at different points of our life.

Jeannell Darden 38:58

Me and my siblings. I'm the oldest of four, you know, we sit around and we have the conversations talking about our childhood. And you remember when mama did that, remember when daddy did that. And so my husband and I joke about well what do you think it is going to be that our kids are going to say about this period of time or that period of time, and we don't know, we're doing the best that we can. But I feel like if I become a higher version of myself, then I can parent her at a higher version of herself at this age, and then whatever bags she has collected, up until nine, we can go ahead and process these at nine versus her processing her nine year old bags at 39. So that's just my thought process.

Allegra Sinclair 39:42

That was so good, you should bottle that up. That was so good. I talked with a friend of mine who happens to be a licensed therapist and working on his PhD and he's an antiracism counselor and all these other things, but He was talking about how we need to destigmatize meditation and bring meditation to the community. And I'm like, anything that's related to mental health, yes. So I love that.

Allegra Sinclair 40:12

So tips for helping to raise confident girls 1) stay connected to them. 2) When you see something, stop and tap in, and then 3) don't be afraid to introduce them to therapy. Tell me if there are things that you do or conversations that you have for when they go out in the world. And it's weird to say that now, right, because we're not going out in the world. But one of the things I thought about as far as raising children in my childless way was, there can be all sorts of things that we can put together in our home, but we can't control what happens when they're out of the home. So are there any other tips or things that you're doing and I understand that your baby is nine, but are there other things that you are doing to equip her to be confident in other situations?

Jeannell Darden 40:59

Yeah, so I'm the type of mom who's very clear on the fact that I may not always be here. You know, my days, all of our days are numbered, but I don't know when my last day is. And so I hope that every day that I'm training them with some kind of tool that if for whatever reason, I'm gone sooner than later that they will have this tool that they can use. It's kind of like I parent from the perspective of teach them how to fish versus feeding them fish. My kids have been dressing themselves since like two. At this point, they can completely clean a house and cook a meal all by themselves.

Jeannell Darden 41:38

And so when it comes to dealing with people in the world, I have been teaching them how to process through those moments when something hits you or you feel some kind of way. So I tell them one, stop and take three or four deep breaths, to say a prayer to yourself because you know who you are, and then just know who you are. If somebody says something about you that's absolutely untrue, or if somebody's trying to convince you to do something that you know is not right, you know who you are, and stay grounded in that. And this is what I think of you, etc.

Jeannell Darden 42:15

A friend introduced me to an article years ago that I never forgot about, about telling children that they're smart all the time. And she was saying they did some kind of like double blind study with children who were told that they were smart, versus children who were told that they were thinkers. And the study was talking about how you tell kids, they're smart all the time, they're never going to want to challenge themselves. But if you tell them that they're their strategic thinkers, that whenever they're faced with a situation, they'll know that they can think through it. And so that's one of the things that I always tell them is that not only are you smart and beautiful, but you are a strategic thinker, and there is no problem that you cannot solve or you cannot figure out. So I'm just laying that seed in their head consistently. So that hopefully that the moment that they need it, well, my mama told me, I can figure anything out, so whatever it is I'm dealing with right now, if she's not here, I can figure it.

Allegra Sinclair 43:05

That's good. It's interesting, because I remember when I was growing up, I had an aunt, who would never tell us how cute we were. Because that was the thing, right? You would always tell little girls, they were cute. But, um, she would always tell me that I was smart. And I remember thinking at the time, well, that's not good, right? They told my little sister she was cute, and I'm smart. I don't want to be smart, I want to be cute. But then one day my aunt said to me, no, being smart is better because cute doesn't last. And I was like, oh wait, what? Okay, yeah, yeah, keep telling me I'm smart then, that'll work. But I love the it. She didn't have this. But if she had told me I was a strategic thinker, that would have been even better.

Allegra Sinclair 44:15

Because what you said was, you can handle anything. Mm hmm. You're a strategic thinker, you can figure it out. That is a very powerful message to plant at nine, or at six, or at 16, or at 30. That's a very powerful seed to plant in someone that they can figure it out. It's like one of the joys of being a coach is that I don't have to have all the answers, and I don't. But what I'm really adept at is helping you find your answers because you usually know your answers as well. You usually know your answers, but you need somebody to help you find out where they are and then what you want to do with them. So I love the you're a strategic thinker, but yes, telling me I was smart versus Cute. I wasn't feeling that until she was like you cute doesn't last but smart is forever.

Allegra Sinclair 45:12

So tell me now looking back, if you had to give some advice to 17 year old Jeannell, what would that advice be?

Jeannell Darden 45:24

Oh, I got stuck on that question.

Allegra Sinclair 45:27

We don't want stuck. Talk to me about that. Why are you stuck?

Jeannell Darden 45:30

I don't know. Because I'm trying to remember what I needed at 17. I do know, I miss, like my 17 to 25 year old body. But I know that I don't want 17 to 25 year olds mind. But I am always trying to remember what does she need? What was she challenged with? And so as we talk it out, as we unpack it, what I realized was, and I'm still unpacking this. I just had a conversation a couple weeks ago, what I realized was I've always been different. I never quote unquote, fit into the same old, same old crowd. And I struggled with that.

Jeannell Darden 46:12

So I always wanted to be my authentic self like I never really knew, you know how you have some people that can be one person in this group and another person in that group and just turn it like a light switch. I never knew how to do that. I think that's why I wasn't you know, very long lasting in corporate America because I just struggled with that whole piece. But at 17 if I had had the confidence enough to know that it's okay to be 100% who you are without worrying about the judgments of other people, I would have made some different decisions, and I would have propelled even further. So I guess in a sentence, what I will tell is, hey, Janelle, girl, you got this completely as who you are, and that is okay. That is okay.

Allegra Sinclair 47:07

That was so awesome. I love that. Did you hear how your voice changed? Everything shifted? Hey Janelle, girl, let me talk to you for a minute. There was so much love and care and empathy in how you talked to 17 year old you, that was fantastic to see. When you were talking about how you were stuck on that I was like really why but the reason why was fascinating because you tried to think of what you needed in that moment, which is brilliant. I don't often find people get stuck with what they would tell a 17 year old them but it's because they're thinking of what they want right now. So the way you purse that was way deeper. Hey, what did 17 year old me need? Even if she didn't know she needed it at the time? Yeah, that was awesome.

Allegra Sinclair 47:56

Well, I thank you so much for stopping by and playing with me today. I thoroughly enjoyed every moment. I know that my audience is going to be like, Oh my gosh, where can we get some more Jeannell? So, if they want more Jeannell where should they go get it? Where do you want them to meet you?

Jeannell Darden 48:15

So the best place for them to meet me is, um, MoistureLove.com is where you can meet the products. The best place to meet me is on Facebook. Follow Moisture Love on Facebook, and request to join the Moisture Mavens Facebook group. Every Monday I do a Monday morning motivation, where whatever it is that I'm learning for the week I share with you all and that happens live on my Facebook page and it also streams into my Moisture Mavens Facebook group. And then if you join our Moisture Love email list, you'll also get that email on Mondays to remind you and you can join my email list at MoistureLove.com and you'll get some pop up offers to join or scroll down to the bottom.

Allegra Sinclair 49:08

And the emails are everything because it's not always about hair. There are a couple that have made me sit up straight in my chair, because, I was just having, you know, a regular surface type morning and then your email la nded and I was like, Oh, wait, this is what we're doing today? Okay, let me grab a piece of paper because you talk about other things about how we show up in the world. And you talk about, you know, it's not always fake and pretty. It is very authentic. That's a great word for describing how it is that you are. So yeah, I appreciate that as well. And if they want to find out more about Moisture Love Gives will that also be on MoistureLove.com? Well, thank you so much for being here. I appreciated everything about it and we will see you on Facebook.

Jeannell Darden 49:58

All right. Thank you so much Allegra I have enjoyed my time and feel so honored to have been able to have this conversation with you today.

Allegra Sinclair 50:08

Thanks for joining us for this episode of The Your Confident Self podcast. I hope you enjoyed learning from Jeannell as much as I did. If you want the show notes, you can get them at allegrasinclair.com/079. Thanks for listening. I'll catch you next time.

About the author 

Allegra M. Sinclair

Allegra Sinclair is a professional coach and confidence expert. She hates to see women living small and loves to help them change how they show up in the world.

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