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After you have applied your AIIR styling paste and smoothing cream you then want to scrunch it up a bit by using a diffuser. In this case I used my Dyson Diffuser to help create more disheveled waves. The beauty of this ladies is it does not have to be perfect thats what makes it even better! So next time you want to go glam to grunge in a matter of minutes pick up the AIIR Styling Paste, AIIR Smoothing Cream and a diffuser and you’ll be ready to literally rock and roll!

Let me know what you ladies think about this easy edgy look!

Balcony Decor Plan | Ijeoma Kola

Now that our home office is done, it’s time for another home project! I asked the gram what I should tackle next and most people said I should do the balcony. Totally understandable since the usual summer indulgences of hanging out at the park or beach or going to a friend’s backyard are all canceled, so we have to make the most of whatever small outdoor space we have. We actually are pretty lucky and have two balconies, but aside from a few chairs and a plant, I haven’t given either of them much thought until now. Here’s my balcony decor plan for the balcony off our living room.

We use our balcony on weekday mornings to get TKB some fresh air and Vitamin D, and sometimes in the early evenings we’ll sit out there and enjoy the sunset. We live on a slightly busy intersection, so the lack of privacy prevents us from enjoying the balcony more. But that’s going to change!

Balcony Inspiration

Here are some of the balconies I’ve been pinning for inspiration:

Balcony Plan

As you can see all that was really going on in the balcony were a few chairs (mix of beach chairs and rattan chairs), boxes from my gardening & spray painting adventures, and old plants and pots. We do have a rubber plant that’s not visible in this pic (but you can see its original location in my plant tour before I moved it for a photo), but otherwise, there’s nothing about this space that’s inviting.

I recently got this lampshade from the Etsy shop Bespoke Binny, and thought I could build a balcony design plan around it. I try to infuse an African touch to all the rooms in our apartment, and this lampshade (which can also be used for floor lamps or table lamps in the smaller size) was the perfect bold accent piece to get the design started. Also shout out to Jonathan for holding the lampshade while I decided if I wanted it here or in the bedroom 😂

I decided to go with a black, white, and green color scheme – because there’s so much wood in our apartment, I actually haven’t been able to do a black & white themed room (which is one of my favorite design palettes) yet. As usual, I measured out the space and put together a mood board of what I’m envisioning.

The main components that I’d like this space to have are a seating area with two chairs and a table, a rug so we can walk outside without feeling like we need to wear shoes, a few tall plants to create privacy, and an herb garden hanging from the rails. I know, I know, I already had a hanging herb garden, and while it was beautiful, it didn’t get enough sun and my herbs died. Also I had potted them in compost and not soil because I’m a scrub, so they would have died eventually anyway. If I have money left over in the budget, I’d love a storage situation for things like extra potting soil and the beach chairs – maybe a bench that doubles as seating? I wanted to add hanging string lights but Jonathan passionately vetoed that idea… but lanterns might be cute!

Because I’m trying as much as possible to buy home decor from Black owned businesses, this project might take me a bit longer to put together than if I just passed by Target (oh how I miss Target 😫). Surprisingly (or maybe not), many of the big furniture stores in Kenya are not Black owned, so I’ve had to do some deep digging to find sources for the things I’m looking for. But I’m very excited to create an outdoor space that is cozy, intimate, and functional, so stay tuned for the reveal!

Introducing Cohort Sistas

This Thursday will make 1 year since I passed my dissertation defense and became Dr. Ijeoma Kola!

I remember the exact moment that I realized that my PhD wasn’t just for me. I felt that part of the reason I was put in my program, and had doors open for me to lead me to the pursuit of higher education in the first place, was so that others could see that it was possible to get a PhD and also be:

  • a Black woman
  • a Black woman with a side hustle
  • a Black woman with a family
  • a Black woman who wasn’t restricting her career to academia
  • a Black woman who did her PhD on her own terms

Although I had an all-female cohort with whom I could share some of the challenges of being a woman in a doctoral program, as a Black woman, there were unique challenges that I faced in my program that my cohort sisters could only empathize with. From being the first in my family to pursue a doctoral degree to having professors struggle to remember my name simply because I got braids to being unable to finish papers because the emotional toll of police brutality rendered me unproductive.

I want other Black women interested in doctoral level research and scholarship to be better equipped with the resources, support system, and mentorship needed to thrive in their programs, which is why I created Cohort Sistas, a supportive online community for Black women navigating the Ivory Tower of doctoral studies and beyond.​​​​​​​​​​​​​ It’s a place for prospective, current, and alumni doctoral students to share resources, spotlight success stories, and communally navigate the trials of Black women in white academic spaces.

The group is invite-only (to keep it a safe space and for Black women only), but visit if you’re interested in learning more!

5 Outfit Combos to Wear While Working From Home

It seems like those of us fortunate enough to be working from home will be doing so for the near future, so if you’re looking for cute but casual outfit combos to wear while working from home, here are five different looks I’ve been circling through!

Blazer & Bike Shorts

This is becoming one of my favorite looks because it works for professional Zoom calls or webinars but gives you the flexibility to cross your legs Indian style (am I the only one who wants to sit like that sometimes?) or do a quick midday asana.

Blazer: ASOS Design x Shahd Batal (Black designed)

Bike Shorts: Nubian Skin (Black owned)

A Ribbed Tank Dress

This is my go to when I wanna feel svelte, say on a Friday, but I also want to be comfortable. A ribbed tank dress gently holds you in in all the right places while showing off your curves. The one I have is breastfeeding friendly (obsessed with this brand for nursing clothes) but there are so many options.

Ribbed Tank Dress (Nursing Friendly): Boob Design

Cropped Sweater + Jeans

If you want to keep tabs on your weight without relying on the scale, throw on your fave pair of jeans every once in a while, but pair it with a cozy cropped sweatshirt or tee. This is a more relaxed look for casual calls, say between coworkers or your girlfriends.

Cropped Cardigan: And Other Stories

Jeans: And Other Stories

Baby Jogger City Bistro | Ijeoma Kola

A Jersey Jumpsuit

One of my favorite silhouettes, jumpsuits are SO easy to wear, and since you’re at home, you don’t have to worry about the dreaded butt naked in a public bathroom anxiety that jumpsuits usually bring.

Jersey Jumpsuit (Nursing friendly): Boob Design

Graphic Tee & Joggers

I love my joggers SO much, I think I wear them three times a week at this point. Since they’re a bit baggy, I like pairing them with a close fitting crop top or tank top while at home – it’s just the ultimate comfy outfit.

Tee: Tongoro Studio (Black owned)

Tee in feature image: My Business His Glory (Black owned)

Joggers: H&M (old)

What outfit combos are you wearing while working from home?

6 Lessons I Learned In My Twenties

Adulting is hard. There are bills to pay, relationships to nurture, and major life decisions to make. One of the questions I often get during my monthly Q&As is for advice to my younger self, so here are six lessons I learned in my twenties.

Prefer to watch the video? Check it out here:

Lesson 1: You receive the kind of love that you give yourself

I think the most radical thing you can do in your twenties is fall so deeply in love with who you are. That way, you’ll be able to be receptive to both romantic and brotherly/sisterly love, and be able to stand up and advocate for yourself when you’re not receiving the kind of love you deserve. I think many college grads think that their twenties are for “finding the one,” but if you haven’t yet found yourself, you won’t know the one if they bumped into you at the supermarket (or on Bumble)!

Lesson 2: Channel the confidence of a mediocre white man

There is a huge gap in the confidence of men and women, especially while in their 20s. Research shows that men will apply to jobs when they meet 60% of the requirements, while women often only apply if they meet all the requirements. Amplify that with the social, economic, and psychological effects of racism, it’s no wonder why Black women often get the short end of the stick when it comes to navigating employment. Next time you’re negotiating your salary, speaking up in class, or even adding things to your bucket list, channel the confidence of a mediocre white man.

Lesson 3: Don’t wait until the time is right. Start where you are now.

The older you get, the harder it is to make dramatic life changes. As you age, you often have more responsibilities – whether in the form of children, aging parents, significant others, mortgage, etc – making it more difficult to make risky or non-linear decisions. If you have a dream or a passion, the best time to start it is right now. Not when you’ve saved a bit more money, not when you’ve gotten the “right” equipment, not when you lose more weight. Just go for it now.

Lesson 4: Some friends are for a season

Adult friendships are interesting. In high school and college, friendships fall out usually over boys or gossip, but as an adult, sometimes months just randomly go by and you don’t talk to someone who was once your best friend. As people change jobs, get into life partnerships, have children, travel, and move, friendships become increasingly difficult to maintain. While you should definitely work on cultivating your friendships, don’t beat yourself up if some of them start to drift as you get older, it’s simply part of adulthood.

Lesson 5: Drown out the noise

We live in an advice and validation seeking culture, and with information, news, and current events at our fingertips every second, it’s easy to get distracted by what’s going on in the world and what everyone else is posting on social. As you navigate major decision-making in your twenties, try to eliminate distractions, put your head down, and just go with your gut to get it done.

Lesson 6: Don’t overthink your purpose. Your purpose is to just take the next step on your journey

Your twenties are for finding yourself and establishing your identity. But your identity is not a function of what you do – your job title, your career, etc. So don’t get bogged down into feeling like you have to have a grand master plan and have it “all figured out”. Everyone in their twenties – and lots of people beyond that age group – is trying to figure it out. Don’t overthink your purpose, just keep doing what you think you’re supposed to be doing and everything will eventually fall into place.

What lessons have you learned in your twenties?

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