Adrienne Bailon-Houghton shares resources for entrepreneurs and talks about mental health and dealing with a recession

Adrienne Bailon Houghton is an Emmy-winning actress, singer, and host of the hit television series The truth. Bailon-Houghton originally rose to fame as a member of girl group 3LW, then later starred in The Cheetah Girls movies. In this interview, Bailon-Houghton sat down to discuss a new partnership with Adobe Acrobat and shared how she prioritizes her mental health and well-being. She also offered advice to business owners, and especially entrepreneurs of color, as we prepare for a possible global recession.

Janice Gassam Asare: You recently collaborated with Adobe Acrobat to launch the Chef’s kit. Could you talk more about that?

Adrienne Bailon Houghton: Honestly, for me, it was above all such an organic partnership and bigger than that. Such an honor because I’ve been using Adobe Acrobat for so long, for so many of my projects that just being able to partner with them…they have honestly saved my life. Many of us are now working from home and we are our own Chief Home Officers, including myself, being an entrepreneur and literally running my own brand, as well as my two businesses, XIXmy jewelry company, THE VOTEmy fashion business, and then in addition, also the renovations of the house.

In the same way: Can you explain a bit how it works?

Bailon Houghton: Absolutely. What I like is that you can actually create your own templates here and that’s pretty much what I did. In fact, I created my own daily planner with the things I need. And I love that the software lets you create anything you need, be it budgeting. I know many of us have used Acrobat without even realizing it. There are things that have been sent to us…whether it’s a schedule of The truth, they certainly sent this stuff. I love that our team can actually collaborate and access it together…it’s super important.

You can use it to create templates, which I did. While I’m checking things out, I have a team of three other people who are my brand manager, Lana…and I also have a graphic designer and also a creative director of my brand. What’s great is they can all log into Adobe Acrobat and they can see when I updated the scheduler…you can customize it on so many levels. My daily planner starts with, what am I grateful for? I also include mental health in my daily agendas. Don’t go, go, go, these are the things you have to accomplish, but what are the things that motivate me to accomplish these things?

In the same way: That’s actually a really good segue into my next question, which is, as someone in the public eye who needs to be constantly “on the go”, how do you prioritize your mental health and well-being ?

Bailon Houghton: It’s exactly that; you have to make it a priority. Cut out days and times where you just put yourself and your sanity in the first place. I think it was about a year ago that me and Lana sat down and said, look, we’re going to burn out. We’re in such a burnout culture right now… I really love that the burnout culture is turning its ugly head on itself where now we see memes that are like, no, everything isn’t about, ‘I hustle, I hustle. I can’t stop, I won’t stop. No, please stop. Please stop for a second and give yourself a moment to not burn out, so you can put your sanity first. We actually started scheduling time for my sanity. In my weekly schedule, we were going over everything. We would figure out where we would do whatever and then we would say, you need a day off. So, I was taking one day off a week…meaning literally nothing was scheduled that day. And it wasn’t always the same because obviously with a busy schedule, there were people saying, ‘no, we need you on Saturday, so you can’t take Saturday’. And it was perhaps on Tuesday that I was able to take off. I like the saying that if it’s not planned, it’s not done. Put in your planned schedule, one hour, two hours, a whole day if you need it. I needed a whole day…just a whole day a week that I could dedicate to my family, my sanity, and myself. We make sure it’s on my calendar…it’s on my agenda.

In the same way: So, speaking of mental health and mental well-being…I want to know more about the support systems that you have used throughout your career. What support systems have allowed you to thrive throughout your career?

Bailon Houghton: I must say that I am really, really grateful and I am so lucky to have an incredible family. For me, my family is really that. I’ve always been given wings to soar because I know I have a strong foundation…having a foundation of people who don’t expect me to be amazing all the time. They don’t have expectations of me that I have to live up to. I think sometimes that kind of pressure can be really exhausting and really difficult and really scary and can cause anxiety and depression when you’re like, oh my God, all these people are depending on me, all these people are waiting for this something about me. I’m so grateful to have surrounded myself with people who expect me to be healthy mentally, physically, and happy.

These are the kind of people we need to surround ourselves with. Being mentally happy means I have a creative outlet…that I can pursue my dreams…so for me, I like to work. Working for me is an outlet. I have a creative job… I think the key is to have people who support your dreams, support your goals, and ultimately want to see you happy and healthy. And they are with you through good times and bad. And let them lift you up no matter what.

In the same way: Absolutely. I like this. The last question I had was…we are still struggling with the pandemic…we are about to enter a recession. Do you have any advice for women entrepreneurs of color who are trying to juggle this space of uncertainty we find ourselves in?

Bailon Houghton: I think when you look at your own life and your own… whatever you are passionate about, what is the need? What do people need right now? And I think that’s when people’s businesses really flourished. You see a recession approaching. What kind of affordable things can we offer people they Actually need? With a recession approaching and causing panic, what kind of things can we offer people that now give them a pocket of peace? As creatives, entrepreneurs, and business people, you can actually find ways to use these difficult times in a positive way to help people think about what you would like during this time.

With the Adobe Acrobat scheduler that I created, I feel like I can get very anxious when I think about all the things I need to do. To be honest, I had no idea that my home renovations were going to be so expensive and there would be so much delay. And it was really hard for me. The only way to make it better was to create this spreadsheet that really let me see and know, okay, so these things are happening this month. Alright, those are the things I should expect. And that gave me something to look forward to. Even in a recession and even in a pandemic, and even with all these things going on, you have to give yourself something to look forward to. If we are in a recession, as business people, let’s start thinking about how we can reduce these costs and make them profitable for ourselves and also for our consumers. Tapping into people’s needs during difficult times is certainly key.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.

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