• Fri. Sep 30th, 2022

The multi-hyphenate creatives uses her sparkle to inspire women and girls to pursue their passions

By Samantha Callender

Morgan A. Owens has never been afraid to use her sparkle to forge her way through uncharted territory. Even if she had to go about it alone, Morgan has embraced the art of the pivot and allowing passions to unfold one step at a time.

The former corporate boss babe found herself taking an incredible leap of faith when she left the comforts of the office to pursue her entrepreneurial dreams. Although the pandemic was ultimately the catalyst that forced her to pursue her dreams full force, at the core Morgan has always been a creative visionary.

As a young girl, Morgan channeled her high energy and charismatic personality through theater.

“I remember writing and creating little sets for my own plays. I would make my mom and dad and brothers watch them,” Morgan laughs at the memory. “I’ve always loved to imagine, and play pretend. I was always in my own little world.”

In young Morgan’s world she would shapeshift and could be anything she put her mind to. Whether that was pretending that she was a librarian one day or computer scientist another, Morgan embraced having and exploring varying interests.

Whenever anyone asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, Morgan couldn’t limit herself to just one answer.

“Sometimes I’d want to be a dancer, sometimes an actress, sometimes a ballerina, or sometimes a playwright. I loved art, I loved makeup and all of the “girly” things. I wanted to be beautiful and be an artist. Baby Mo always wanted the spotlight on them,” says Morgan.

Though as Morgan entered her teens, that desire for the spotlight began to dim. As a teen, Morgan found herself believing that opinions of others who found her sparkle to be too bright.

“Middle school was a turning point in my confidence. I really began to internalize what people said about me. About my personality and also about my body,” Morgan recalls. “I remember having a crush on this guy and found out that while he thought I was pretty and cool, he also thought I was too fat.”

That began Morgan’s long and complicated journey with self-love both internally and externally. The social pressure to be the people pleaser who ticked all of the “good” boxes of being smart, pretty, and thin took a toll on her mental health as a teen, but she found it difficult to share that dark side of her life.

“It got to a point where in high school I lost weight, became a cheerleader, and was voted best sense of humor among my peers. So, from the outside looking in it looked like I was truly happy, but I was not,” Morgan shares. “I remember around my sophomore year I felt like I could not continue living life anymore. Nobody knew I was struggling with that on the inside.”

Morgan never gave in to those feelings of suicide though the self-esteem struggle continued well into Morgan’s college years. She was doing “all of the right things” in the hopes of following an academic path that led to a corporate ladder. Still, Morgan found insecurities she struggled with as an adolescent finding their way into her young adult life.

“At this stage of my life I let my insecurities around my body and beauty stop me from pursuing my dream of being a beauty editor. I worried that other people would judge me, and I felt like I wasn’t beautiful so it wouldn’t be believable that I could be a beauty editor. So, I didn’t even pursue it– I buried it inside.”

Instead, she chose to pursue a corporate path. Though just like when she was a child, Morgan couldn’t quite place her finger on one specific corporate job.

“At one point I thought I was going to be a lawyer and up until my senior year of college everything I did was around that track. The plan was to go to law school, become a lawyer, and then ultimately a judge,” she says.

Though when she realized that wasn’t the true path for her, Morgan ultimately pivoted her academic course and obtained her Bachelor of the Arts in English and Creative Writing.

Finding a job proved difficult, as Morgan completed school in the midst of the 2008 Recession. Opportunities were scarce and Morgan found herself at a standstill.

“I couldn’t find a job for two years. I was working four jobs at once to keep up with a lifestyle I was used to. I didn’t want to have to give up anything. I liked nice things, I liked to go out. So, I did what I had to do,” Morgan said.

Though she wasn’t living her dream, she was able to drop the four small jobs she was juggling to settle into a marketing and communications coordinator position at a local community college. 

It was in this position that Morgan began to learn the world of marketing, branding, and campaign creation. It was her first foray into the marketing industry. 

“Since I was the youngest on the team, they let me play social media. It was the new big thing at the time, and I did have some experience with Facebook. I grew the college’s Facebook page significantly but in the meanwhile learned how to use it to brand a business.”

Working to help a corporation use the power of social media to grow and scale lit a new spark in Morgan– entrepreneurship. Successfully scaling her company’s digital presence gave her the confidence to apply the knowledge she mastered at her corporate job to begin a small business of her own on the side.

In an effort to change her relationship with her body while tapping back into her love for dance, Morgan found herself becoming a certified Zumba instructor in 2013. That certification led her to open her Curvy Cardio business, where she provided fitness courses and education for women like herself who were wanting to tackle their health as well as their self-esteem.

Being a business owner and face of her own brand empowered Morgan to begin to open up about insecurities. Sharing her personal story on Curvy Cardio’s branded social media pages, Morgan would open up about what it felt like to grow up with body image issues and low self-esteem. The more transparent was online, the more her online community grew. And while the point of sharing her story was to recruit people to enroll in fitness classes, Morgan also realized the healing power of connection and community.

“Curvy Cardio really saved my life. The feedback and outpouring of love from women who could relate to me was life changing and a real turning point for me in my life and career. I knew I had to take this brand to new heights and I also knew in order to do that I had to begin to heal internally,” Morgan says.

At 27, Morgan was once again embracing another life pivot – beginning to turn her fitness brand into the Morgan A. Owens brand that focused on empowerment. While “women’s empowerment” often gets a bad rap as a mean girl brunches, Morgan made a conscious effort to make sure that her brand poured true value into the people it touched. She knew that in order for the work she was doing to be intentional and genuine, she had to do her own inner work.

“I decided to really focus on doing my own healing. I started going to therapy to get some outside perspective and some guidance on how to go about it. It was not pretty at all but I committed to doing the work every day to begin to shift how I thought about myself so I could truly believe those empowering things I was saying to others.”

One of the toughest things Morgan realized was that sometimes the common denominator in failed relationships, businesses, or careers was the person who looks back at you in the mirror.

“That was the dark part,” Morgan says. “There’s no easy way to do that. But I remained committed to telling myself that I loved myself in spite of. Reprogramming my mind to love myself even when I didn’t have on the makeup or the hair or whether I gained weight. I was committed to loving whoever I saw in the mirror at any given time.”

Morgan took the lessons she was taking along her own journey and turned them into empowerment sessions with young girls and young adults. “I was doing workshops, webinars, and even annual conferences to share my story and the lessons I’ve learned to inspire young girls and women to begin to take care of their mental health too.”

Photo provided

Morgan found the more she became empowered within, the more confident she became externally. 

“As my confidence soared, so did my professional career. I left the marketing department at the college and pursued an opportunity to become a Diversity and Inclusion consultant for a healthcare corporation. I felt that academically I wasn’t qualified, but I got the job and really got more insight into the corporate structure.”

Embracing this new pivot, Morgan found herself learning how money moved in corporate spaces, and also saw first-hand how too few women of color had access to this corporate capital. 

“Black women were (and still are) the fastest growing demographic as entrepreneurs but didn’t have access to as many resources and financial opportunities as their counterparts. I saw how to get access to it and started to incorporate that into my brand as well,” says Morgan.

Morgan learned to acquire sponsors to help underwrite her workshops, webinars, and annual conferences so that she could teach other young entrepreneurs how to get a piece of the pie.

As Morgan spent more time diving into creating tools and resources for other women to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams, Morgan felt pulled away from her corporate track. In 2018 she made the position to leave her 9 to 5 job in corporate and become full time CEO of her Morgan A. Owens brand. It was a big leap, but as someone who has always embraced the pivot Morgan was optimistic about this new major change.

One of her first duties as a dedicated brand owner was to put down all of the lesson’s life taught her up until that point into a book, she released in 2018 called “Finding My Sparkle”.

Morgan decided to take her book and brand on tour, sitting on panels, hosting book talks, and delivering keynote speeches at schools and institutions to create real life connections with young girls and women all across the country.

“My sparkle is self-love. When I love myself that radiates into positivity in other areas of my life. On these tours my goal was to speak my truth and shine my sparkle and inspire women to show up daily authentically for themselves and tap that thing that makes them sparkle,” says Morgan. “It was amazing holding and sharing space with women to be able to talk candidly about these struggles we all go through.”

Morgan found herself sharing her story not only on the road, but also being recognized for her efforts in entrepreneurship.  She was recognized as a 2016 Bright Awards Entrepreneurship winner and was honored by organizations like Urban League YP of Southwestern Ohio, YMCA, YWCA, Black Career Women’s Network, Venue Magazine and Honoree 300 Black Women of Chicago. She was highlighted in publications in XONecole, Bauce Magazine, and Black Enterprise Magazine for her work with young women and her brands. The national spotlight on Morgan and her sparkling brand was bright and there was nothing that could stop the corporate baddies turned CEO.

“Then the pandemic hit, and everything hit a wall,” says Morgan.

Suddenly, the world was shut down and the conferences, workshops, and speaking engagements were put on ice. Morgan found herself with nothing but time to figure out how to (once again) pivot her business model.

“I decided to use this time to tap back into an old dream of mind– becoming a beauty editor. I was at this point where I had this creative writing degree, this marketing and branding experience, and experience building a community for my brands. I decided to give beauty influencing a chance,” says Morgan.

Creating right from her living room and using her iPhone, Morgan created campaign-inspired content of beauty products and brands she used faithfully. Using her social media page, not only could she begin to fulfill her aspirations of being a beauty editor, she could also use it to attract income.

“I started blogging four to five times a week, uploading content using things I had around the house or meals I cooked. I used my corporate background to begin pitching myself to brands and to attract sponsorship opportunities. I was pitching 15 to 20 brands a day. I remained consistent.”

Morgan was so dedicated to making it work that she even invested the last bit of her savings to enroll in an influencing master class taught by a well-known influencer to learn the ins-and-outs of the influencing world. With consistency and applying those lessons, Morgan soon found herself inking deals with beauty brands like Palmers and local food brands like Frisch’s to create sponsored content. 

“I wanted that content to reach an even wider audience, so I reached out to the Cincinnati Herald to see if they’d be interested in creating a Beauty Section. They liked what they saw and that’s how I became the Chief Creative Beauty Consultant there.”

Morgan found herself being offered opportunities to contribute beauty reporting to publications like Hype Hair Magazine and was even tapped to be a contributing beauty segment for FOX 19 news, a local TV station where she shares beauty and lifestyle tips.

As pandemic restrictions began to lift, Morgan found herself once again taking the lessons she learned on the path to influencing on tour, but this time, internationally. Taking brand trips to destinations like Paris and Mexico, Morgan has once again begun to share her sparkle with the world. 

“So many doors opened for me. Ones I never thought possible. I’m really in charge of my own life in a way I wasn’t before. No day is the same for me. My days are full, but I fill them in ways I want to– creating, spending time with Ralph (my dog), taking a weekend trip to Mexico. It’s really a blessing.”

Morgan decided to take the freedom and lessons from her influencing entrepreneurial journey and package them into a new resource for her community in the form of a talk-show. 

What started out as an affirmational post on social media soon found itself growing legs, as folks in Morgan’s community began to reach out to offer their support in helping her turn her dream into a reality.

“I posted a status in May 2022 on Facebook about wanting to pursue a talk-show in the future and began getting messages from people offering their services. From producers to showrunners, all of these folks that I had once poured into were now rallying to give me the tools I needed to make it happen.”

After spending only, a couple of months in pre-production mode, Morgan started filming season one of her talk show on September 8th, 2022. Filmed in Cincinnati, Ohio, the show tapped in front of a live-studio audience and will feature segments that range from beauty, fitness, financial empowerment, cooking and sampling demos to interviews with entrepreneurs and CEOs.

Airing of The Morgan Angelique Show starts October 3rd, “Monday’s with Mo” at 9:30am. You can watch the show every week by subscribing to The Cincinnati Herald’s YouTube Channel, Morgan Angelique Owens YouTube and following Morgan on Instagram (@morganangeliqueowens).

“I’m very grateful to my team and sponsors, without them none of this would be possible. My team includes Timikal Bobo, Mason Grey, Kailah Ware, Terrance Marshall, Tierra Jade, Alex Thomas, Alicia Rogers, Winnie Thompson, Brandon Smith and Sydney Phillips.

My currently sponsors: Metro, D2 Landscaping, The Cincinnati Herald, The African American Chamber, Herald Beauty and Citizens of the World Charter Schools, Visit NKY, Uncle Nearest, Cream + Sugar Coffeehouse, Love Cork Screw Wines, Dannel Shepard Realtor, Barbara & Daman Turner Family.”

To sign up to be a sponsor, buy a season pass, commercial spot or be in the studio audience you can visit Morgan’s website, www.morganaowens.com

While this is the next venture Morgan is focused on, as always, she doesn’t see this as the end of the journey, only another chapter.

“I long ago stopped putting a timeline on my life and my goals. My plan is to continue to operate in excellence and to continue to innovate and push myself out of my comfort zone and trust wherever that may take me. As an entrepreneur I don’t chase the money, but I chase the opportunities that allow me to elevate. Money follows that elevation.”

While Morgan’s present attention is focused on building a talk show, she still has other ambitions in mind and plans to keep the door open for opportunities like her own makeup line collaboration, beauty + travel campaigns and working on global campaigns with major airlines. “I hope that people see me living my life and are inspired to go after what it is, they want and not be afraid to go for those really big dreams. I want people to go for it. The best thing to do is just start and take it day by day. I hope my life and my brand inspires people to show up every day for themselves and for their dreams.”

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