We’ve often heard from founders that running a business can be a 24-hour experience. Still, recently, many of us are denouncing hustle culture for a balance of our own. As women who wear multiple hats, how we spend each moment of the day matters.
For Black women, time is precious, but often we forget that the time we spend outside of building our empires is just as important. In this ESSENCE.com series, we’ll get the scoop on how some of your favorite entrepreneurs and executives are spending time off the clock to refuel, recenter and to remember their north stars.
Meet KJ Miller, Co-Founder and CEO, Mented Cosmetics, Philadelphia, 35
In 2017, KJ Miller and her graduate school classmate Amanda E. Johnson created Mented Cosmetics. What started as a project that the women pursued on the weekend is now a popular beauty brand that celebrates individuals of all hues with its inclusive shade range.
Miller, a graduate of Harvard Business School, created Mented Cosmetics products by watching YouTube videos and hand-mixed formulas in her kitchen. Today the products are sold in stores including Target and Ulta. The multi-million-dollar beauty brand recently closed a $5M Series A round in funding. When Miller is not growing her beauty brand, this wife and mother find ways to mentor the next generation of entrepreneurs. She shares with ESSENCE.com why it is essential to spend time doing the things that make us whole.
Working out is her personal time.
Miller admits that she doesn’t like being alone. However, if you catch her alone, it’s most likely working out. “I do try to work out three to four times a week; that’s my true me time,” she said. What makes working out easy for this busy entrepreneur is owning a Peloton. “Peloton workouts are where I think I’m going to have the most fun, and I always sing along to the songs as I ride. It’s great,” she added.
Vacations are a love language.
Miller and her husband enjoy spending time with each other, and the two honor that through vacations. “We were in Cancun in March and are probably going to head back to the Caribbean this fall,” she shared. When selecting what type of vacation this CEO wants to have, Miller admits she prefers a relaxing experience. “The one thing I don’t let myself feel pressured to do is to go on adventure vacations,” she said. “My workdays are so hectic that when I finally take some time for myself, I do not want to be traipsing all over the place.” You can catch her poolside with a cocktail in hand.
Her beauty looks to match her mood.
Miller likes to play around with her beauty looks during her off time. “One of my favorite things about beauty is that you don’t need to have a set-in-stone routine to enjoy it,” she explained. Sometimes she goes full glam, and some days she does the bare minimum. “I’ve been putting on lashes every day lately and really loving it. Other times all I’ll want to do is throw on a bit of primer and some lip balm,” she said. The key thing for her is to have fun with makeup. Miller lets go of the pressure to feel like she has to be full glam because she owns a beauty brand. In her content on social media, you’ll see her versatility in her makeup looks. “I try to remember that makeup is fun, not fundamental,” she added.
She prioritizes mentorship.
When she’s not working on Mented Cosmetics, Miller is prepping for next semester as a lecturer at Yale School of Management. She teaches and holds office hours with students about their ventures and networks with other faculty. Miller knew teaching was in the future as a student at Harvard Business School. “I always wished I had a course like the one I’m teaching,” she said. “I’m an entrepreneur at heart, so when something doesn’t exist that I think should, I’m pretty likely to create it.”
Teaching in this capacity is a way Miller gives back. “It’s energizing to me as a founder to talk to other upcoming founders. They ask great questions and think about things in new lights,” she said. Her advice for other entrepreneurs who want to mentor her suggests starting with a small to see how many founders you can manage and grow.
Why is being off the clock important?
“Ultimately, we are all more than our jobs; we are our interests, our desires, our passions, our experiences,” Miller said. That’s why she needs to set boundaries, create a hard 4:30 PM stop for the day and be intentional about spending time with her family. “I can’t be a whole person at work if I’m not a whole person outside of work, and at Mented, we deeply believe in being your whole self,” she added. Miller is intentional about doing what fuels her and makes her whole.