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Taking the Leap and Landing On Your Feet: How to Do It Afraid and Succeed with Shayla Varnado

Updated: Sep 6, 2022

Shayla Varnado lives by the words “feel the fear and do it anyway.” As the founder of Black Girls Wine, Shayla knows a thing or two about taking a leap of faith and landing on your feet. She founded her luxury wine experience in 2019, but her entrepreneurial journey actually began years prior when she ventured away from her career in Corporate America to be a fashion stylist and business coach. Although she has since sunset her fashion styling business, the lessons Shayla has learned along the way have been crucial to her success as a leader, a woman, and an entrepreneur. Here’s a few gems Shayla shared during our Confidence Conversation:

Sometimes your dreams will feel far-fetched. When Shayla got the idea to develop Black Girls Wine the idea seemed crazy. She came from a family that didn’t drink, and had previously dabbled in other industries, but didn’t know anything about wine. However, when Shayla started doing her research she found that there was a need in the market for a luxury wine experience for women of color. Although she didn’t have clear guidance on how to scale this particular business, Shayla was able to use her experience with the previous companies she’d run to make Black Girls a reality.

Timing is key. Everyone has great ideas, but one critical element of success is ensuring that your timing is right. This is a bit oxymoronic. On one hand there’s no such thing as “the right time,”-- life waits for no one and there will always be an excuse as to why you shouldn’t capitalize on your dreams. On the other hand, there’s always a moment that you feel on the inside--there’s a calling that won’t go away and a dream that you feel you just have to pursue. When you feel that calling you’ll know it’s the right time to take the leap. That type of passion will motivate the heck out of you and won’t allow you to fail.

When you’re indecisive the universe will kick in and decide for you. Before quitting her job to start Black Girls Wine Society, Shayla had been thinking about leaving her full-time job for a few months. One day she decided to go to a conference to meet other industry entrepreneurs. Shayla submitted her time off request and it was promptly rejected by her company. In that moment she was faced with a decision: pursue passion or stay in dreamland. Shayla took the leap.

Find time for you and take care of you. Regardless of how busy you are, you have to recharge and reset. It’s common to think that you don’t have the time to engage in self care or take a break, however if you don’t, you’ll be trying to operate on an empty tank. In order to thrive you have to be well-rested and focused.

Never stop investing in your future. While you might be an expert in your field, there is always something new you can learn. Stay ahead of the game by networking, reading books about your industry, and keeping up with industry news.

Sometimes you just have to do it afraid. Life is full of big decisions. Oftentimes we want to wait to feel completely cool, calm and collected before making a decision or deciding to press “Go” on our next big journey. In reality, however, many new ventures will require that we proceed despite the underlying fear. The fact of the matter is that you won’t always have all the answers, or feel 100% sure. Confidence kicks in when you acknowledge the fear and proceed anyway.

Everyone has a sweet spot, the key is to find yours. Your genius zone of opportunity is where your passion and expertise meet other people’s needs. Find what you like to do, what you’re good at doing, and how you can use that skill and expertise to benefit others. When you can do that, you’ve unlocked success in business, career, and even your personal life.

Develop your plan and stick to it. The world has a funny way of making us question ourselves and tricking us out of doing the things we really want to do. Shayla learned this the hard way when she launched Black Girls Wine and tried to make it into an all-inclusive experience rather than the luxury experience she wanted it to be. While she’s on track today with her luxury brand, she does admit that she wished she had stuck to her original plan. Here’s the thing--you’ll never stop questioning or asking “what if?” The key is to start asking yourself what if things actually do work out and to put your actions and intentions towards making it work out.

Plant your seed in faith, not fear. Don’t let the fact that you’re not seeing results prevent you from watering your seed or drive you to dig it up before harvest time. Progress takes time. Just like a seed that’s growing beneath the surface, initially you won’t see results from your hours of effort. However, stay on track knowing that good things take time and success is coming.