“Women of color who have experienced success before me truly inspire me, no matter what background or professional industry they stem from. I see beauty in all facets.”
Remember those uncomfortable years as teenagers where the opinion of peers ruled day-to-day decisions, haunted your feeling of self-worth and the only thing keeping your secrets safe was the fickle promise of “cross my heart and hope to die”? Thankfully many of us have grown into confident adults and matured past this awkward stage! Nationally published journalist / motivational speaker turned author, Pauleanna Reid (www.pauleannareid.com) has penned a coming-of-age story for any woman who has ever questioned her sexual maturity and readiness, stayed silent at a time when she should’ve spoken up or accepted treatment that was less than what she deserved. The book speaks to the issues that youth deal with today but highlights themes that are sure to resonate with many men and women.
After reading the paragraph above in an email, I was completely drawn in. I too, had an “interesting” high school experience and often mention how much I hated it. Thankfully, I have grown up into a confident woman but I always wondered how I could help those who struggle in high school with self discovery. And then viola! Pauleanna Reid releases a book that speaks to the rough and tough years we call high school.
I was completely blown away by Reid’s candor, her gut wrenching emotion but mostly, I was surprised at how quickly I became invested in the lead character, Aaliyah. She represents so many young women out there – it’s very easy to identify with her trials, triumphs, family situation and struggles.
Everything I Couldn’t Tell My Mother launched in March 2014. The launch party was held at the beautiful, newly built Pantages hotel in downtown Toronto, steps from the action at the Toronto Eaton Centre. The turnout was amazing and the response has been nothing but positive. Everyone at the book launch received a signed copy of the novel and had the opportunity to chat one on one with Reid.
I chatted with Reid prior to her launch and had a chance to get her know better. Check it out below.
Renee Melissa: Who is Pauleanna Reid?
Pauleanna: I am a multi-passionate entrepreneur who is on a mission to help people see beyond the limits of their circumstances.
Renee Melissa: What ignited the move from La’Browne Styles to a solo career in Fashion styling and image consulting?
Pauleanna: Unfortunately, sometimes relationships grow apart. My partner and I decided to go our separate ways last year. She has continued on with her endeavours and I’ve maintained great relationships with clients who I do styling and image consulting with. We are still very happy and seldom work together. I always maintain my business as an image consultant because I love the transformation process and helping women become the best versions of themselves from the inside out.
Renee Melissa: Tell me a little bit more about New Girls On The Block mentorship. And how can our readers join the program?
Pauleanna: In short, my NGOTB mentorship Program is designed to help young women add structure and strategy to their lives. Whether you are entering post secondary school, starting a new job, building a new business or want to feel better about yourself, usually there is a nervous feeling attached to exploring a new phase of your life. It can be scary, but my program is designed to teach young women how to confidently step out of their comfort zones, dazzle in their industry and tap into their potential. Joining my program is very easy. The process is explained on www.pauleannareid.com
Renee Melissa: What does success mean to you?
Pauleanna: Success to me means 3 things: Happiness, having the courage to live your passion, and giving more than what you take from this world.
Renee Melissa: Who has been your greatest inspiration?
Pauleanna: I have many which include mentors, colleagues, friend and family. But what many people don’t know is that my little sister is a major inspiration in my life. She is such a fireball. She is so smart, outspoken, and courageous. At her age I was still finding myself, I was socially awkward and going through a mental illness. Now that I’m older, I ensure our bond is never broken. She is like my mini me. I make sure that I continue to set a good example so that my sister knows what success looks like. She motivates me to do my best. She is my why.
Pauleanna and I share a bond – a love for Sista Souljah. Her poetic nature and ability to convey a feeling through literature had me hooked to her books! Below, Pauleanna explains how activist and author, Sister Souljah inspired her.
Renee Melissa: What book has inspired you the most? (OR What is your favorite book?)
Pauleanna: I grew up reading and studying the life of Sister Souljah. She visited my hometown for a book signing and upon meeting her face to face, I cried like a baby. She is such a powerful and intelligent individual. I love her first book, a memoir, No Disrespect. I’ve read it several times.
Renee Melissa: Any advice for young female entrepreneurs?
Pauleanna: Keep your mind as sharp as the spike on your stiletto. Do not solely depend on looks. Continue to educate yourself and always be prepared for the next opportunity.
Renee Melissa: To what do you most attribute your success? What would you say are the five key elements for starting and running a successful business?
Pauleanna: My success is built upon networking and nurturing relationships and always following my gut feeling. To run a successful business, you need the following:
- Work ethic
- A mentor
- Strategy and structure
Renee Melissa: How has your Caribbean background played a part in your success?
Pauleanna: Women of color who have experienced success before me truly inspire me, no matter what background or professional industry they stem from. I see beauty in all facets. I’ve studied the evolution of too many to name all at once. I love Anais Nin, Tracee Ellis Ross, Shonda Rhimes, Lupita Nyong’o, Sister Souljah, Vashtie Kola, Karen Civil… the list is endless. My parents, who are of Jamaican and Trinidadian decent, are also a huge inspiration for me. They both have killer work ethic and a keen eye for detail. To witness a woman (or man) of color who is confidently pursuing their dreams is the best sight to see in my opinion. Personally, it reminds me that anything is possible.
Renee Melissa: What does your writing process consist of?
Pauleanna: I get my best writing done early in the morning while the rest of the world is still fast asleep. I have to write in 6-12 hour sessions in order to feel like I really put in a strong effort. I do this with breaks of course, but when I’m in a zone, I get lost in the pages. It’s a great feeling and during this time is when I am the most happy.
Renee Melissa: Powerful, dynamic and gut wrenching all at the same time. The preview had me emotional. What was it like writing this novel?
Pauleanna: It was a healing process. I had so much personal baggage that I needed to release in order to move forward with my life with my sanity intact. You see I view vulnerability as strength not a weakness. I am okay with wearing my heart on my sleeve when the time is right. I laid everything out on the table with this novel. It’s a piece of work I am very proud of.
Renee Melissa: Can you relate to the leading character Aaliyah? And how much of your life experiences have you injected into this novel?
Pauleanna: I can relate to pretty much every page. A mentor once told me that your content is your life story and that’s exactly what I did when creating this novel. I used many of my life experiences to fuel the momentum. It’s always easy to write about what you know. Aaliyah is searching for love, acceptance and fulfillment. I think every girl can relate to her feelings.
Renee Melissa: We see her battle with her complexion as well as her traumatic encounter with a young man. Do you believe that young girls are dealing with these very issues daily? If so, do you have a message for them?
Pauleanna: Girls are constantly dealing with peer pressure, sexual curiosity, negative friendships and crazy boys. We tend to get so distracted from what’s really important. Things like self-love, building confidence, good grades and enjoying the simple pleasures of life. When tough situations arise, we don’t always have the tools necessary to exit safely. Sometimes we make decisions we aren’t very proud of or lead us down a bad path. My advice is to focus on chasing dreams, not boys. When you become your own best friend and understand your worth life because a hell of a lot easier. You are 100% responsible for your life and the choices you make have consequences. Think twice, act once. That’s the best advice I received as a young adult. Really think about the results of your actions before you make that next move.
Renee Melissa: If you knew then what you do now, what would you say to 14 year old Pauleanna Reid?
Pauleanna: What an awesome question. I would say, stop looking for love outside of yourself. You already possess all the tools you need to succeed. No man or material thing can do that for you. You are beautiful and you are capable of much more than being looked at. You have a brain, you have creative talents, you are a dreamer. Use these strengths to create the life you want. Only you have the power to do that.
Renee Melissa: What would you say to a young girl, who is lost and searching in all the wrong places for love?
Pauleanna: Baby girl, the only type of love you should be concerned with is your self-love. You may not understand it now, but the relationship you have with yourself is the most important relationship you will have in your life. Happiness begins and ends with you.
Renee Melissa: What does balance mean to you? How do you stay balanced with your demanding schedule?
Pauleanna: I think people are so focused in chasing “balance” that they end up stressing out and losing touch with themselves. A good friend once told me to infuse life and work together. How does that old saying go, “If you love what you do then you’ll never work a day in your life”. Which is true. I could literally sit in my office all day and lose track of time. It’s beautiful. But to specifically answer your question. I plan each day. I try to spend a few minutes to organize what I want to accomplish and stick to it. My to-do list may include work-related things or non-work related activities.
Renee Melissa: What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Pauleanna: Just start writing. Period. I receive tons of questions from aspiring authors and that’s my best piece of advice. The hardest part is the beginning, maintaining love for the art of writing. My book is nearly 300 pages and it was not easy. There were many times I wanted to give up. But if you have discipline and understand your why, you won’t and your faith will push you during tough times. So don’t think so much about your big 5-year plan. Focus on a daily writing goal and stay consistent. Take baby steps and celebrate little milestones.
Renee Melissa: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Pauleanna: Married with a few children. I will have at least 3 more books under my belt. My brand would have become international at that point and I will be traveling the world empowering women and girls.
Renee Melissa: We define a COCO Woman as a woman who embraces herself, her unique beauty and is not afraid to show the world her true self. Are you a COCO woman?
Pauleanna: Yes, I am! A COCO woman keeps her mind as sharp as the spike on her stiletto.”
Here is a list of Pauleanna’s favourites:
- Colour: Pink
- Item of Clothing: Dress
- Food: Mama’s lasagne
- Drink: Water
- Perfume: Flora by Gucci
- Designer: Rachel Sin
- Song: Jealous by Beyonce
- Celebrity: Vashtie Kola