Step into Morgan A. Owens’ office space at downtown’s Novel Coworking and you’ll be greeted by bright pink walls, framed posters touting positivity, #bossbabe vibes and, well, Owens herself.
“This is my happy place,” she told me as I sat down to ask her about her latest endeavors — of which there are many. Most recently, the Cincinnati-native launched her newest book, How to Be Professional Pretty: A Guide to Bloom Your Business, 68-pages of advice and worksheets on everything from marketing and branding to networking. (WerkBook: A Guide to Setting Goals and Slaying Them also functions as a workbook to putting goals into action via strategic planning.)
“After five years of entrepreneurship, and just seeing what women — and minority business owners — need, this is really the basics,” Owens says. “A lot of times people think entrepreneurship is popping because of social media, but really there’s a lot of work that goes into the backend. That was the whole idea — to help and self-navigate women to ‘OK, find your why. Find your audience.’”
She adds that she talks to her readers like she would a friend: openly and honestly about what to expect as they start their own business or climb the corporate ladder. The latter is where Owens started out before leaving that world to create her own brand in 2016. But her foray into entrepreneurship started with Curvy Cardio in 2014, a workout class that promotes physical health, self-love, self-esteem and body positivity in tandem.
As a whole, her brand seeks to show women that they can be both “powerful and pretty” in the professional world, no matter if they choose to dress up or down. In short, women can get the job done just like anyone else.
Professional Pretty officially launched Aug. 8. Her first book, Finding My Sparkle, was released last year and details her personal journey to self-love. In it, she discusses heavy topics — being bullied, negative self-image, self-doubt, depression. Having graduated in creative writing from Miami University, it’s a book that Owens, now 33, says took her years to be able to write.
“I just tell my story. I've always been transparent with my journey because I feel like you should be,” she says. “As I said, a lot of these entrepreneurs or even people in the corporate world will have you believe that everything is fine and daisies and roses, but it's not. So I think all three (of my books) complement each other well, and just also shows my growth as a business owner, too.”
When she first wrote Finding My Sparkle, she says she never thought it would end up in schools. But it has. She was in four Cincinnati Public Schools last year and taught a curriculum to show girls how to find their respective “sparkle.”
As she speaks on navigating issues related to self-esteem and confidence, she adds that there’s a new layer for youth today to grapple with: social media.
“They can't unplug it how we used to unplug it,” Owens says. “And so just hearing them say, you know, ‘Ms. Owens, thank you for sharing your story. I go through the same things.’”
For her, it’s important to show them that — whatever it may be that they’re facing — the moment won’t last forever and, if they put their mind to it, they can achieve whatever it is they want to do. Owens is a living testament of that sentiment.
To add another bullet point to her resume, Owens spoke at Yale University this spring and has previously spoken at Northern Kentucky University, New Haven and the NAACP’s 110th convention in Detroit. You can also catch her column in Black Press USA.
“Oftentimes, when I travel and I speak, I can talk about how to build a six-figure business or whatever. But if you don't believe in yourself, it's not going to do any good,” Owens says. “So I've kind of pivoted in the way that I speak because...if you don't believe in your vision, nobody else is going to believe in it. Right? Especially women, we have these barriers that are ourselves.”
For her, it boils down to sharing how she was able to break through her own barriers in order to believe in herself. In doing so, she can help other women do the same. Looking toward the future, Owens says a book tour is on the horizon for 2020 and her third annual Professional Pretty Conference with roll out May 22-24, 2020. For more info, visit morganaowens.com or follow her on Facebook.