Time: 1:52 a.m. PST
Today, November 11th 2021, marks nine years of building Milano Di Rouge. Wow, nine years later, still going, still growing and still learning. It’s 1:53 a.m., and I’m laying here thinking about me tagging shirts, folding them, grabbing a thank you insert, dropping them into red matte shopping bags labeled with a Milano sticker and gently laying them in the trunk and back seat of my 2009 Altima Coupe, so I could make deliveries throughout the tristate area to the customers who texted me their orders. Most customers were miles apart, but I never really cared about how far I had to drive. I was just happy that people were supporting my brand.
12/15/12: Milano Di Rouge launch party. The birth of a new woman and journey.
Flashback to my 23rd birthday earlier that same year on April 26, 2012. After listening to Beyonce’s song, “I Was Here,” I made myself a promise that I would leave my mark in this world.
In the song, she says, “The hearts I have touched will be the proof that I leave.”
As I’m currently writing the lyrics to her song, I put the song on and listening to it put me back in a trance, and instantly, I begin to cry. I just remember how hard I worked to make these lyrics a reality. I wasn’t always this nice, positive, inspiring person, I wasn’t mean either but I’m from the hood and I was a product of my environment, I was always getting into fights, I lived only for today, I never really put much thought into my future and I didn’t have a solid understanding of my value. I was moving like I had nothing to lose. But that song, that song made me tap into the potential I didn’t even know was in me. After the promise I made for my bday, I start aligning my steps. I had picked up blogging in March 2012 but after my bday, I prioritized it, I got a new camera, started doing photography, started interviewing different people in Philly that were tapping into entrepreneurship, did hair, did a little styling, learned how to build a website and html coding, created, edited, directed and produced little videos and ultimately, this all lead to the birth of Milano.
I remember hearing people talk about me saying, “She’s calling herself a blogger, photographer, videographer, web designer and a hair stylist. Which one is it? She’s all over the place.” My response was, “Yup I do it all. Whichever will make me a million.” Fast forward nine years later, I’ve made that and some.
Not to mention the hearts I’ve touched, the people my journey has inspired, the charities I’ve given back to, the people I’ve donated to and the lives that were impacted from this brand that I created while living in the back room at my mom house: Milano Di Rouge.
12/7/12: One of my first photo shoots for Milano Di Rouge. I was still blogging at the time so I used the photos from my shoot for my blog post. P.S. These are the red shopping bags I was referring to in my letter from Milan post.
Some of my team members who followed me on IG before working with me even mentioned that they saw the hard work I put in via social media, but they had no idea the capacity in which I was really working. Once they saw the ideas, heard my thoughts, watched how I executed and problem solved and saw the overall work ethic I put into Milano Di Rouge, they told me to start documenting the process more and sharing it. I promised them that I would start doing that and share it on my personal YouTube page: IamMilanRouge. Subscribe.
I’m really sad because I planned a really amazing nine-year anniversary photoshoot/video shoot that was supposed to take place this weekend. I planned to document and share the ups and downs of my nine years of being an entrepreneur and release it today, but I had to cancel everything at the last minute because I’m sick with COVID. So instead of celebrating my nine-year journey the way I envisioned, I’m isolated in quarantine laying in the bed, missing my son. I couldn’t understand why this was happening. I always wear my mask, and I’m always taking extra precautions. But with me always finding the blessing in every lesson, I looked at this as a sign from God telling me I needed to rest, I needed a break, and I needed some time to myself to reflect. Although I don’t know how to take a break cuz I’m always working, me having COVID has only allowed me to work at 60% capacity, and that alone has helped me get the slight break I needed to really think. The ideas that I’ve come up with while laying in this bed have lit a new fire under me. I didn’t catch COVID, COVID caught me! As soon as I beat COVID, I’m going to hit the ground running, but first stop will be to kiss and hug my little Czar Prince, I miss him so much ;(. Next stop: Take Milano Di Rouge to the next level.
Thank you for believing in me, thank you for believing in my vision and my dream. I have tears in my eyes (I promise I’m not a cry baby, I’m just emotional because I came a long way) as I write this because Milano Di Rouge, this brand, has really changed my life. I got to see the world from a new lens because of MDR! And because of your support. I’m forever grateful.
I always wanted to be successful, but I never imagined it would be like this. God has truly blessed my life. I don’t know what I did to deserve this, but I’m so grateful. I’m grateful that He didn’t let me stay a product of my environment. I come from Da bottom (west Philly). My mother is a single mom, and my dad is a convicted felon who has done over 30 years in prison. Statistics show that I’m not even supposed to be where I am. But God!!! God had other plans for me.
I just want to tell you, no matter your circumstances, you are not a product of your environment. You’re a product of your decisions. So decide what you want today and go for it. And don’t stop until you get it.
In November 2013, after numerous people asked me what Milano Di Rouge stands for, I made the acronym MDR, and I decided that it will stand for “Making Dreams Reality.” That same day, I wrote our official Making Dreams Reality quote, so look at 11/11 as Making Dreams Reality day.
Today is Milano’s 9th anniversary but today, 11/11, can be the day you decide to make your own dreams a reality. It can be the day you decide to make your mark in the world. And that dream doesn’t have to be a business, it can simply be a dream of just becoming a better person. If I made my dreams a reality, you can too. What’s stopping you? The only thing stopping you is you! Let go of excuses and remove all doubts. You got this!! Make your dreams reality.
9 things that changed my life while building Milano Di Rouge:
- Beyoncé’s song, “I Was Here”
- The book “Girl Boss” by Sophia Amouroso
- “The Intern.” I’ve watched this movie at least 2500 times. It’s my favorite movie. Anyone that’s truly close to me, I’ve made them watch it about 30x including Czar
- Attending seminars
- Czar (he’s the reason Milano makes baby clothes)
- My amazing family and entire team both past and present. They all helped shape Milano Di Rouge in a way I’ll never forget. Whether it’s a lesson or a blessing.
- And you, our customers and supporters