Message From My Heart
This month marks the first anniversary of the launch of my business, November. Some of you may be surprised to learn that we have only been around for one year. You may be equally surprised to learn that I am the sole employee of this company. Yes, I am a one-woman show. That is not to say that I do not have the unwavering support of my family and friends, but every product, every email, post, and tweet is sent out by yours truly.
So, this business is not just a business – it’s me. And I’d like to share with you a little about myself and my journey to this present moment.
I have always been a listener. As a child, I would be the one sitting in the corner of my grandmother’s kitchen listening to “grown-folk talk.” When older people spoke, I listened. I learned. As a girl I was so afraid to make mistakes so I pretty much always did what I was told. One of my greatest fears was disappointing those I thought expected me to become my best self, which, at the time, were the adults in my life.
As I grew into womanhood, with children and a husband of my own, I continued to listen. Not so much this time to people around me, but to the Holy Spirit guiding me. John 14:26 says, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” I believe that the Holy Spirit was sent to guide us and will direct us, if we will listen to Him.
I was raised with a can-do attitude. I did not realize until my adulthood how powerful that type of thinking actually is. My parents and extended family never said anything was impossible. If you can think it, you can do it. If you can see (envision) it, you can do it. If you can plan it, you can do it. If you have the drive, you can do it. Simple as that. Ambition was never complicated in my family. If you wanted to do it, you did it. And if you failed, you could be satisfied knowing you tried. So it was no surprise then, when in January of 2012, after the birth of my second child, and having justcompleted a Master’s degree in Social Work, my husband and I felt the Holy Spirit leading us to decide that, instead of returning to work, I take on the responsibility of rearing our children at home. It was also at this time that we decided to begin working on the plans for a natural beauty products line (November) and an old-fashioned bakery (Sweets Family Robinson).
Of course, I was terrified. I had so many questions for God! I had no business experience, no marketing know-how, and most importantly, no start-up capital. That’s right, no moola! But, I read about Habakkuk who asked “What's God going to say to my questions? I'm braced for the worst. I'll climb to the lookout tower and scan the horizon. I'll wait to see what God says, how he'll answer my complaint.” And God answered him saying, "Write this. Write what you see. Write it out in big block letters so that it can be read on the run. This vision-message is a witness pointing to what's coming. It aches for the coming - it can hardly wait! And it doesn't lie. If it seems slow in coming, wait. It's on its way. It will come right on time” (Habakkuk 2:1-3).
So I waited for God to speak through his Holy Spirit and I wrote it down. I planned. But know this – I did not begin either business out of the blue. They both erupted from a passion burning inside of me. With November, for example, I had been making my own hair and skin products with all-natural ingredients for two years by 2012, but had never thought of selling them - not until my good friend, Adrienne Young, convinced me to ask God if a natural product line was in His plan for me. And the rest is history. What started as mismatched bottles of hand-mixed concoctions lining my bathroom shelves became a professional line of all-natural hair and skin products for men and women of all ethnicities.
Within the first few months of business I’d filled 60 mail orders, one of which was a 1600 unit shipment to CurlKit. In addition, I was invited to vend at several events including SuperNatural Saturdays in Charlotte, NC and National Natural Hair Meetup Day in Greenville, SC. My writing on natural beauty was also featured at the International Shea Butter Convention in Atlanta. Now, one year later, my products ship from California to Florida, New York to Texas, and everywhere in between. November products are also sold at a storefront in Greenville, NC.
What is even more phenomenal about this entire experience is that God has completely transformed this venture. Although I, of course, continue selling people on my products (and the products are awesome), what has become even more important is selling people on themselves. The more I sold products, the more God revealed women who were thirsting for validation. Here was this wonderful “natural hair movement” that beckoned women to return to their God-given beauty, but women were still wanting “that” hair - hair that belonged to someone else. They wanted their hair to bend and twist and curl like someone else’s. This realization prompted me to write my Natural Beauty Guide at NovemberBeauty.com. Encouragement Coach, LaVondilyn Watson, then pushed me beyond my comfort zone and challenged me to step into my purpose and minister to individuals as God led me.
My message to women, young ladies, and little girls is based on Genesis 1:31-2:1 which reminds us that, “God looked over everything he had made; it was so good, so very good… Heaven and Earth were finished down to the last detail.” To me, that means we can find everything needed for physical enhancement, maintenance, and repair in nature. But it also means you are good enough. Every inch of you was finished down to the last detail. With Him, you are complete.
Will November beauty products be around forever? Maybe. But probably not. Of course, I hope November will be around for many many years to come. But, if it is not in God’s plan, I won’t sweat it. I do pray, however, that God will continue to use me to spread his good news.
What is more important to me is the legacy I leave for my children and the generations after me. Whether we intend to or not, we will each leave a legacy for our children. We can be intentional about it or leave it to chance. Either way, my decisions today and every day will shape their lives and will ripple into the lives of generations after me, for forever. I want generations after me to look back and say, "Parthenia changed the course of our family’s history," the same way I can look back and say that my Dad changed how the men of his family related to their wives and children; the same way I can look back and say that my great-grandmother changed the spiritual maturity of her family. It is my prayer to leave something worthwhile – something beyond wealth or status, because our lives are like a mere breath; our days like a passing shadow (Psalm 144:4).
As I come upon the first anniversary of my April 2012 launch, I am reminded of God’s faithfulness. “Not to us, Lord. Not to us, but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness” (Psalm 115:1). I have learned that it is not about me. It never has been. I listened. I listened, and He guided me. It is about reaching you for Him. And I am so grateful for you. Because, as you know, I cannot stay in business without customers. My success is contingent on your support. So, I thank you. Thank you for believing in me. Thank you for trusting a small business with a treasure as precious as your God-given beauty. Thank you for taking a chance on a young woman, a mom, a wife, a child of God. Thank you for spreading the word to your friends, your family, and the people you care about. I am forever grateful for your love.
I hope this letter has encouraged you in some way. You - in everything you are going through, in everything you have been through - are enough. God is able to do anything through you. He is able to do exceedingly and abundantly more than you can ask or even imagine, depending on how much you allow His power to work within you (Ephesians 3:20-21). Wait for His Word. Listen for His Holy Spirit. He will lead you into your purpose. "Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, 'This is the way; walk in it'" (Isaiah 30:21). "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11).
May God bless each and every one of you.
Parthenia Luke Robinson, Owner