Nigel and Nia-Emani have to be San Diego’s most engaging and innovative couple. Living thousands of miles away from most of their close family and friends, they yearned to connect with other couples. Although they’ve developed friendships locally with some great people who are diverse in ethnicity and interests, they knew that something was missing: they didn’t know any local Black couples.
The mission of Unlimited Black Love is to celebrate Black love by identifying and uniting Black couples to learn from each other through meaningful conversations, engage in entertaining and unique activities in cities around the country and online, and to promote healthy and loving relationships at home.
To fill the void, they started a movement. Unlimited Black Love is a community of Black couples across the country that meet with each other regularly for date nights, conversations, and group activities like hikes and happy hours.
In February 2017, www.unlimitedblacklove.com was founded and the original community migrated from meetup.com to this new domain. They also added a new locale. The community was expanded to Raleigh, North Carolina, close to where Nia’s parents now live.
What is your day-to-day like at work?
For my nine to five, I am a licensed financial advisor but my passion is the community I founded last year, Unlimited Black Love. I began it as a way for my husband and I to meet other Black couples in the San Diego area that we could see shows with, go to dinner with, and even just meet up to have a good ol’ venting session about life. The group grew quickly so I evolved the structure to fit the demand of the now international community it is. We now offer monthly memberships to Black couples, where they receive a themed date night to their doorstep each month! Also included in the package is a promo from personally selected Black-owned businesses, invitations to our monthly events, and so much more.
So to keep up with the growing demand, I use my lunch break to write blog posts for our website, plan events for Unlimited Black love members, and post pictures of beautiful, real, Black couples on our Instagram and Facebook pages. On the way home from work, my husband, Nigel, and I discuss various topics with our social media family for our #UBLCarpoolConversations segment. I take a few hours in the evening when we get home to schedule our weekly UBL newsletter, connect with business partners for our monthly membership package, and plan the next steps for Unlimited Black Love.
What inspires you to show up at work every day?
I’m inspired by my relationship with my husband and the relationships of so many other beautiful Black couples that we’ve had the privilege to meet through the Unlimited Black Love community. My husband and I love each other deeply. We’ve been through highs and lows and we work on our relationship every day. We believe in each other’s dreams and abilities. We hold each other accountable for our words and actions, and most importantly, we like each other. We understand the strength of Black Love. We believe that strong Black love is the foundation for strong Black families, which create strong Black communities. I receive so much inspiration every single day when I meet couples that look like us, talk with couples online that have the same challenges as us, get feedback from our Unlimited Black Love members that enjoy the same activities as us, and even those that are not currently in a relationship but take time out of their day to tell us that our community inspires them.
How did you determine your career path?
While Nigel and I have some examples of strong Black couples in our lives, we didn’t have any in close proximity to us since moving from the East Coast to California. I sought out to identify our people because I knew they had to be out here and what I found was so beautiful. Each and every couple that joined our community told us that this was a community that they needed to be a part of for one reason or another. Whether they were new in town, all of their friends were single, or just needed a reason to do more activities together, they each found something they were looking for in Unlimited Black Love. This community has meant everything to me since day one but seeing how much it meant to our members just made me want to do more. So I created this path out of a longing for something I felt was missing and I continue because of what I found.
What industries connect to your career choice?
I believe Unlimited Black Love is closely connected to the wedding industry. Although we are a community of all types of Black people in relationships – dating, engaged, married, and long-term partners that aren’t married – we’ve seen a prominent presence of newlyweds, which includes me and my husband. The technology industry is also very connected to our community because social media, apps, and websites are how we’ve been able to reach an international audience and give Black couples the opportunity to connect with other Black couples in various regions.
Describe the skills that will be essential to future business leaders and innovators.
Flexibility and adaptability are key skills for any leader, especially one that runs a business. It’s important to listen to your audience and understand what it is they need/want from you and be open to making changes that align with the demand and with the vision you have for your path.
Define innovative methods you apply to your business and life.
I’ve been using many of the data systems that are available to help me be efficient with expanding Unlimited Black Love. I still work full time so I’ve been able to automate many aspects of running our Facebook and Instagram accounts (@UnlimitedBlackLove) and our website, www.unlimitedblacklove.com. Since I have a busy schedule, and it’s important for me to make time for my relationship, Nigel and I have used some of our date nights and activities we do together as content to share with our UBL family. This way, we’re not only spending time together, but we’re also giving everyone a peek into our life behind the scenes of Unlimited Black Love.
Describe how you set goals and evaluate your success.
I have a journal that I carry with me everywhere I go. In it, among other things, are several goal lists for Unlimited Black Love: daily To-Do lists, weekly, monthly, and year-end goals, as well as long-term goals. I measure success by how much better I’ve done today versus yesterday. My goal each day is to do more quality work, build more relationships, and ultimately be more proud of myself and the work that I did today as opposed to yesterday.
Who do you consider your peers in your field? How have they supported you? What best practices have they shared?
My peers are other Black women entrepreneurs. We are all so passionate about what we do so it’s always a pleasure when I have a moment to talk with those women in my “tribe”. We share ideas, ways to grow – both personally and professionally – and we encourage each other not to give up on our dreams. Two of the best practices that have been frequently shared with me are to be consistent and to read as much as possible.
Name your favorite role models for success in two different industries.
Oprah always makes me feel proud to be a Black woman. She has reached what some might call the pinnacle of success but she never stops working and reaching higher. My number one role model is my mom. She was my first teacher and my first example of what a strong, confident, stylish, and beautiful woman looks like. She’s a formal educator and I watched her work full-time in the public school system while taking night classes to get her bachelor’s degree, then her master’s degree in education. My mom has dedicated herself to helping underrepresented and underprivileged children and young adults believe that they are great and can succeed. She’s my ultimate hero and I’m thankful for her every day.
Names three books that changed how you saw life and you recommend to others.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
Describe why lifelong learning is important to you.
The world is changing every day and that will always be the case. In order to stay on top of new advancements, understand changing cultures, and to be overall well-informed, it’s important for me to read all types of publications as often as I can. I also believe experience is the best teacher. Doing new activities and putting myself in new situations are ways that I like to learn new things but traveling is, by far, my favorite way to learn.
Describe the voice of success that you hear in your head.
The voice of success in my head sounds like my future children saying “mommy, I want to be successful like you when I grow up.”
Community success through this service means what to you?
To me, this means that Black love is celebrated and encouraged every day in the Black community both online and in person, Black couples have a space to be themselves, to learn from, and to teach to other Black couples, and Black women are respected for their roles in their personal relationships and in business.
Technology plays what role in your daily life?
Technology is extremely important in my personal life, my career, and my business. My husband and I were in a long-distance relationship for several years and while it didn’t replace our physical connection, technology helped close the geographical gap until we were able to reunite. It’s also how I was able to launch and expand the UBL community so having technological capabilities is vital to its existence.
What software and technology tools have made the biggest difference in your life?
Automated services that allow me to be on several places at once have made all the difference. Since my free time is limited, I need to be able to send emails, post on social media, and update www.unlimitedblacklove.com simultaneously, and I can, thanks to some great tools that are available on the internet.
Define your personal culture.
My personal culture is based on confidence, class, sincerity, style, and graciousness, with the understanding that I am not striving for perfection but instead for fulfillment and happiness in all aspects of my life.
How does music impact and influence you?
Music is everything. There’s a song that could fit each and every moment in my life. I grew up listening to all types of music and my mom would blast “oldies” on the weekends while we were cleaning the house. As I’m responding to this question, I’m realizing that that’s probably why I have music on whenever I’m working. It makes me feel productive. Like most people, I’m most productive when I’m feeling good and it makes me happy to hear songs that have memories tied to them. You can catch me bopping and typing at my desk most of the day.
Describe your favorite vacation spot.
I’ve been fortunate to visit many places and various countries but there’s nothing like a New York summer. My husband and I are originally from New York so it’s always a good time when we go back to visit our family and friends. There’s no place like it.
If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
I would want more tolerance of various groups, and to do that, I would want people to be thoroughly educated on their history, which all traces back to Africa. Maybe then, we all would understand how unbalanced our world society is today and be able to change for the better.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I would be slightly more patient. I only say slightly because I’ve been working on it. Plus, becoming an entrepreneur has required a certain level of patience that I wasn’t accustomed to so I’m confident I’ll get there soon.
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