Entrepreneurship is a lifestyle that has long been glamorized across social media feeds; but the feeds only offer small glimpses into the lives of entrepreneurs, often playing up the allure without showcasing the systems, routines, and synchronization that it takes to be a successful business owner.
Rochelle Graham-Campbell, the founder and CEO of Alikay Naturals, by all accounts, is winning when entrepreneurship game. Just this year, the hair and body care brand was added to the shelves of Walgreens and Wegmans. Despite Alikay's massive success, Graham-Campbell continues to launch side businesses while also raising a family. Below, the busy mompreneur sat down with EBONY to graciously pull back the curtain on her daily routine.
Rochelle's day usually begins between 5am and 6am. Naturally, an early bird, the mother of two makes a point not to use actual alarms. Instead, she gives her body permission to dictate its wake time. Intentionally, she bypasses her cell phone and resists the urge to catch up on text messages, e-mails and social media notifications that may have come through during her evening's rest. "I make it a point to not grab my phone. It's really important to me that I touch base with myself and God before I get my day started," says Graham-Campbell. "No matter what, whether it's 15 minutes or 20 minutes, I take a moment of meditation."
Typically, her meditation exercises involve herbal tea and some journaling. Then, the quiet time extends into her commute to the nearest of her three offices, which at the time of our interview, was the Alikay Naturals headquarters.
"I will get two hours of work done," says Graham-Campbell. "Between 6am-8am, I am getting early work completed before my staff of 27 comes in." She continues, "Having that quiet time is so important. When our offices open at 9:30, it gets extremely busy."
Graham-Campbell and her husband, Demond Campbell, fall into the weekday routine of preparing their two children, Serenity and Landon, for school. The family's synchronized morning routine didn't just happen, Rochelle admits. "I had to have a conversation about what my needs were as a parent. We have a great way of communicating," she said of Demond, who handles school drop-offs. "I'm really grateful to have a helpful partner to bounce off of. It's all about us bouncing off of each other."
Blocking Out Distractions
After the children are carted off to school, Graham-Campbell typically spends 30 minutes eating breakfast followed by a 15-minute check-in with both her executive and personal assistants. Then, she spends the following 30 minutes taking care of minor tasks for the day as well as any small chores that may have materialized as a result of the meeting. Doing so allows her to focus on larger tasks throughout the day without being distracted by smaller items on her to-do list, which is usually comprised of five things she seeks to accomplish on that day. She also challenges herself by including two optional bonus items. The practice was birthed when she began to realize that she'd often "grind all day" only to wind up having accomplished one task.
For the sake of productivity,Graham-Campbell works on a block schedule, which helps to ward off distractions. As a practice, she only spends time on meetings and e-mails during certain parts of the day. "I schedule 30 minutes to check e-mails. It allows me to just go into my inbox and take the items that are a top priority. I reply to what I need to and then I get out," she admits, before sharing that she also relies on project management software, such as Monday, to cut back on the back and forth of e-mail. Typically, she limits meetings to Tuesdays and Wednesdays before 3pm, a practice she recommends all entrepreneurs adopt.
"An open schedule means you'll always be pulled in 50 million different directions unless you create a schedule for yourself," says the beauty boss. "Not taking calls after 3pm gives me time to decompress before my children come home at 5pm or 6pm. Additionally, I bounce into work by 6am so by 3pm, I'm drained. I want to give my best self at all times. It doesn't mean that I stop working at that time; it just means that anything required of me is complete at that time."
In essence, the block schedule that she has adopted helps her to be a present boss at work and a present mom and wife at home. "As a parent, you can't spend the whole day working, working, and then when your kids come home and you really want to spend time with family, you're working," she explains. "I had to build in distraction blockers."
On a normal day, Graham-Campbell opts not to spend more than 30 minutes on her lunch break as she feels that this free time could be better spent at home. "As a mom, if I am going to be away from my babies, I need to be sure that the time I am away from them and I am working that I am giving my 100 percent," she said. "I'll take that 'me' hour at the end of the day before my kids come home."
On a good day, she's done with her workday 4pm and engaging in a bit of "mommy self-care" as she prepares for her children to arrive from school. "I sit and decompress, catch my breath, be a human being and decompress for the evening," she says.
When the children arrive home around 5pm, the Campbells dine as a family—whether it be takeout or a home-cooked meal. After dinner, there is a nightly family activity, which can range from board games to bike rides in the park.
"We have a list of quick grab-and-go activities, but it all depends on our energy and our bandwidth," she says, before clarifying that she and Demond are always reasonable about the activity they choose to partake in. Despite being a self-proclaimed Pinterest mom, the activities are simpler on some days than others.
"I love my career and I love being a working mom, but I still want those memories. My daughter is 3 years old and she will only be three for one year. It doesn't matter how business is going or what my bandwidth is; she needs mommy and I want to do that. If I get to a point in my life where the things that are my priority, which is my family, get pushed to the back burner, that's a problem.
Around 7:30pm, Graham-Campbell begins the challenging, hour-long task of winding down her daughter Serenity for bed . At about 8:30, Landon follows his little sister in a pre-bedtime winddown.
Once both children are sound asleep, Graham-Campbell and her husband enjoy about two hours of alone time, watching a movie or discussing the events of the day.
"Once my hubby is asleep, that's when side-hustle mode kicks in," Graham-Campbell shares. Well into the wee hours of the morning, she works on passion projects and side businesses, such as Rochelle Graham Business University, a program that equips early-stage entrepreneurs with the tools needed for successful product launches. At about 1am, she winds down. "I know it doesn't sound healthy, but that's what I do," she admits.
Then, she heads to bed, wakes up, and does it all again.
Despite her fairly short sleep schedule, Graham-Campbell sets aside Fridays for self-care. With the exception of the first two hours of the day, which she spends on side projects, the rest of the day consists of personal appointments and fun things like solo trips to the movies. "It's my day to take myself out on a date," she explains.
Other self-care practices sprinkled throughout the week include grounding exercises—which consist of pacing the grass with her bare feet for 5-10 minutes to help reduce stress and anxiety—and reciting two affirmations a day. "It's important to me that I stop and love on myself verbally," continues Graham-Campbell.