noun || yəNG ˈhefā
Maya Allen is the definition of a #GirlBoss. Period. And not the type of #GirlBoss that first comes to mind. The type of #GirlBoss that combines hard-work, positivity and beauty — wrapped in one "not settling for less than what she deserves" black woman. I find comfort in knowing that if the world (for whatever reason) stopped spinning and black women everywhere couldn't rush to our aid immediately, Maya's got it handled! Cosmopolitan.com has a gem on their hands and lucky for Truce, now so do we, #YoungJefe.
TA: What's your current hustle?
MA: I'm the fashion and beauty editorial assistant at Cosmopolitan.com. I've also recently picked up a side hustle working as the Co-Editor of IDontDoClubs.com. In short, my to do list is always never-ending. I'm obsessed with my job at Cosmo. I get to learn from the industry's best fashion and beauty editors in the game and create compelling content that I truly care about. On a daily basis I write about a wide range of topics, but I'm most proud of my work that celebrates #BlackGirlMagic in all of its glory. My job entails everything from directing photoshoots, interviewing celebrities, attending New York Fashion Week, writing long-form feature articles, and covering breaking news. As the Co-Editor of I Don't Do Clubs, I have a hand in editing all of the content that goes up on the site every week. I really value media spaces that are for us and by us. Working as the Editor of I Don't Do Clubs allows me to hone in on my editing skills, which is amazing because one of my goals is to be the Editor of a major women's magazine one day.
TA: What is the difference between your 9-5 and your 5-grind?
MA: To be real with you, there's not much a difference. I like it like that though, because this is my time to put my all into every single thing that I'm working on. When the balancing act of my 9-5 and 5-grind gets too overwhelming, I scale back and reevaluate what's important to me. I'm constantly plotting and calculating my next move —whether it's professional or personal, so I like to keep my wheels turning at all times. There's not really a 9-5 grind in media because digital is 24/7. I feel so honored to work at such an esteemed, major online magazine like Cosmopolitan, so I'm constantly on, I never really turn off. I'm doing what I love, which pushes me to work even harder. I have a lot of personal passion project in the works, so lately I've been working on giving those the attention they deserve.
TA: What has the response been (from your peers) to either your 9-5 or 5-grind?
MA: The overwhelmingly positive and encouraging response from my peers and people I don't even know has literally brought me to tears. Sometimes, when shit gets really hard, I have to remind myself of how big my reach is and how many people I'm inspiring through my work. I'm really hard on myself, so I never think I'm doing good enough. But when I write a personal essay or a big feature for Cosmo that gets shared across all of our media platforms the amount of love and messages I receive makes me feel so full. Ultimately, I know that I was put on this earth to empower women through my words. All of the supportive responses I get from women around the world who read my work is so fulfilling. During those moments I slow down and take a deep breathe, because it's a sign that I'm fulfilling my purpose.
TA: Who gave you the most memorable career advice? How has that aided you in you day-to-day?
MA: It's so hard to pick just one person. I've been blessed to have many career angels in my life. I'd have to say my mentor and big sis, Kahlana Barfield, has been one of the most influential people in my career thus far. She's dropped many gems, but one of the most important things she's ever told me is that you literally need to outwork every single person in your office. Her success story at InStyle Magazine is pretty phenomenal. She started as an intern and is now the Fashion & Beauty Editor-At-Large. She told me she was always the first one in the office and the last one to leave. That beast mode mentality is something I incorporate into my work grind every single day.
TA: What has been your favorite "project," so far? Why?
MA: I'm passionate about all things BlackGirlMagic. Fact: Black women make the world go round and everyone needs to recognize that. I'm always dreaming up creative ways to use my platform at Cosmo to spread our beauty. Particularly in the beauty space, cultural appropriation has lost its fucking chill. If the latest celebrity adopts a beauty trend that black girls have been doing, all of a sudden they own that trend and we lose all of our credit. That needs to stop. This fuels me to create content with black women at the forefront. One of my favorite projects was when I brought a bunch of my beautiful friends into the office to shoot them wearing one of Kylie Cosmetic's "nude for all" liquid lipsticks. Creatively directing a shoot with so many melanin goddesses literally made my heart explode. The feature turned out absolutely beautiful and got so many hits. I'll forever be proud of this story: click to read!
TA: What is your dream collaboration (or with who, where, etc.)?
MA: I'd die if I ever get the opportunity to work with Solange. Actually, I will work with Solange one day. I'm claiming it and manifesting my dreams! I just love everything that she stands for. She's so radiant and unapologetic. She continues to spread the gospel of being very black and very proud. I write about her every chance I get at Cosmo because she's my spirit animal, but I'd love to work on a big beauty feature with her. Her Don't Touch My Hair movement is so powerful. I just want to personally thank her for it, lol.
TA: When your first direct deposit hit, what did you buy?
MA: I'm proud to say that it wasn't clothes or shoes, it was actually an apartment necessity. I'm trying to kill it at this "Adulting" game, so I guess you can call it a responsible purchase. I paid my contribution for this stunning grey, plush velvet couch that looks picture-perfect in my living room. I love my apartment so much, so my amazing roommate and I invest a lot into our beautiful, princess palace.
TA: What do you listen to on your way to work? Music (if so, who?), Podcast? Motivational clips?
MA: Kendrick, Sza, Sampha, Khalid, Sir, Syd, Jorja Smith, and Future have been in heavy rotation. Apple music is cool, but I'm extremely loyal to Soundcloud, so I'm always vibing out to my favorite artists there. I've been so into Podcasts these past few months. I know I'm late, but they're just so informative and inspirational. On my way to work I always listen to TD Jake's The Potter's Touch, Black Girl In Om, Fat Mascara, Sophia Amoruso's Girlboss Radio, Alex Elle's Hey Girl, and Myleik Teele's podcast.
TA: If you could steal anyone's musical/artistic/visionary talent, who would it be? Why?
MA: I'm inspired by a shitload of people in an array of spaces so let me break it down. Musical: Beyoncé. I mean, Queen Bey doesn't need much of an explanation. She's a musical powerhouse and no one is on her level. She's untouchable! Artistic: Pat McGrath. She's known as the "mother of makeup," because her artistry is superb. She's a black woman who has paved the way for many makeup artists in the industry. Plus, every face she touches turns into a work of art. Visionary: Oprah. Mama O has used her vision of inspirational storytelling that's transformed her into a media mogul. She's such an inspiration in every sense of the word.
TA: Who are 3 "must-follows" on Instagram? That aid to you day-to-day inspiration/career path.
@Saintrecords: I love following Solange because she puts on for black girls at all times and her point of view is so creatively on-point.
@Melanin.art: Anytime I'm seeking inspiration or about to pitch ideas, I scroll through their feed. It's full of iconic photos of magical black women and men that are just so aesthetically pleasing.
@TraceeEllisRoss: Everything about her is #Goals. She's so aspirational. I love her light-hearted, carefree approach to life and she's always serving lewks. I foreal feel like she's my distant auntie. If I can sneak in one more it'd be @NikishaBrunson: I'm so into my health and keeping my mind, body, and spirit thriving. I love following her because she's such an expert on holistic health and spreading self-love.
TA: In 3 words, what would you tell your 16-year-old self?
MA: Trust the process.
TA: Closing statements? Feel free to say anything!
MA: I liveeeeee for girl bosses like you, Telsha, who turn their passion projects into platforms to inspire. I feel so incredibly honored to be included. I say that to emphasize the importance of living your truth. If something has been sitting on your heart and you've been afraid to pursue it, go after it with every thing you have. You might not know it, but I promise you're inspiring someone. You have so much power. Keep going, this is just the beginning for all of us.
For more of Maya follow her: here!