What I've Learned 4 Months into The Melanin Collective


A little more than four months into The Melanin Collective, Kaitlyn and I sat down for a short conversation on where we've been, what we've learned, and where we want to go in the future. Launching a business is no short walk in the park, but it's probably one of the most meaningful things I've done -- it's a real testament to living my own authentic truth. Here's a quick recap of what we talked about. 

KB: We’re nearly four months into The Melanin Collective! What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far?

DQ: The biggest thing I’ve learned is that -- as an organization, a company, an entity -- (and as much as I love partnering and supporting others!), the first priority of The Melanin Collective is to make sure that our mission and intentions align with the work we’re trying to accomplish. As a community health educator in my past life, all I knew was to partner and work with others for the greater good. That’s just the lifeblood! But in order to do this as a small business, I learned that  our partnerships and products need to represent who we are as an organization, unapologetically! And like any healthy relationship, you need clear, open, and honest communication and transparency to be successful!

KB: In these four months, what are you most proud of? What’s something you would have done better?

DQ: That’s a hard one! I think I’m most proud of how The MC came out of such a toxic, abusive environment. I would have never met you, Kaitlyn, if I didn’t go through that experience. I think everything happens for a reason! You are my words when my brain is fried, you give me great advice when I’m struggling to make a decision, and your fearlessness is my fearlessness! Haha -- I mean I worry about everything and you do too, but I love how The MC has a spirit of “F#ck this, we deserve better!” **Readjusts crown**

KB: In a lot of ways, women of color do - and HAVE to - hold themselves up to higher standards when it comes to our work. Have you found yourself struggling with this? Have there been ways you’ve compromised to give yourself a break from this kind of self-oppression?

DQ: Dun...dun...dun! Do I practice what I preach?!? Most of the time! My second biggest lesson has been to not be ashamed of my disability. I need to communicate to others that I need some accommodations to be able to do the work -- and that is 100% okay. We’re not all perfect and our brains don’t work the same, so how can I work so hard to keep up this facade of “I’m perfect and I can do anything” -- because that is what is expected of me and if I’m honest, what I used to expect of myself. I can’t! It’s way too much work and I need my energy for other things. Now I’m much kinder and my calmer and kinder internal voice tells my overactive crazy, over-critical voice to shut up and sit down because we have stuff to do and beating yourself up is not going to help.

Hello everyone, my name is Doris and I have a disability.
No, it’s not a visible one.
No, you don’t need to feel bad for me.
No, I’m not perfect and I’m not trying to be.
No, my life isn’t ruined. It’s definitely an adjustment, where I need to do things in a different way and that’s ok.
Yes, we can still be friends LOL

KB: As a business owner of color, what’s the most important thing you’d tell other women of color who want to branch out?

DQ: Be yourself! There is only one of you and if you are bold, brazen, fierce, strong, and determined, do you! No one else can bring what you bring so take that idea, that business, and DO IT! If you fail, it will be okay but if you think about it, when was the last time you did something and it failed?It’s probably been a while or they have been few and far in between. Coincidence? No! You are amazing and when you are determined to succeed, nothing will stop you. I don’t know one woman of color who hasn’t worked her a$$ off to be where she is today. You’ve been winning, so why would that stop now?

KB: What are you looking forward most to in the future of The Melanin Collective?

DQ: I am excited to build this amazing network of women of color, all #mujeronaspoderosas, that have carved a space for themselves! They are inspiring, successful role models and all the young women and girls of color, are going to be 100x better off because of the work #WorkingWOC do every day. I can’t wait to be in a place where #TheMCSquad is mentoring the next generation of young people of color, supporting their growth and preparing them for success. Also, retreats! With all the stress in the world, I want the MC to be a safe haven. A place to disconnect and relax. We can do that here but will definitely do it better on a warm beach in the Bahamas.

Doris Quintanilla