Meet the four black women making a name for themselves in the wine industry through ‘Wine-ish’

“We’ve spent the last three years coming together every Wednesday to connect over our future plans and our shared love for beautiful experiences – always in the presence of wine. From this, Wine-ish was born.”

Wine-ish is a dynamic group of 4 black women occupying the world of wine, one glass at a time.

Palesa Mapheelle, Obakeng Monamodi, Buhlebezwe Ndaba and Hlumelo Williams came together as friends on a casual Wednesday, also known as ‘Winesday’, to share their goals, dreams and everyday experiences.

156 Winesday’s later, they decided to form Wine-ish; a platform that has become a hub for all things wine and business, soon to disrupt the industry.

Wine-ish takes you on a visual journey of South Africa’s rich world of wine and related experiences through the lens of young, vibrant women of color.

The name choice is quite unique and has an interesting meaning behind it. Not only does the team focus on the technical understanding of viniculture and “Wine”, but the “Ish” in the name is also just as important to them; representing the side of them that is simply 4 young women navigating life together with all of its ups and downs.

Wine-ish is deeply rooted in and propelled by the connection the four of them share as friends, before anything else.

To us, our ‘Ish’ is just as important as our ‘Wine’. We’re not only about Merlot vs. Sauvignon Blanc, notes & flavours – we’re also about sisterhood, creating a hub for people to connect and relate to our experience – @wine__ish. Click To Tweet

As a business, Wine-ish aims to debunk wine and the drinking of it, all while making it more accessible to an emerging market who want to learn and experience more about it.

They don’t want to be seen as experts, but as people who are constantly learning and challenging the norms of the industry.

The zestful, youthful and vibrant energy of the team has always been what differentiates them from the firm and rigid industry they’re trying to create a space in, and it has been nothing but refreshing.

Infiltrating the industry has had its challenges but seeing the growth of people of color creating their own brands and wineries has left the team hopeful in making sure they will transform and create a positive disruption for themselves and in partnership with like-minded, forward-thinking collaborators.

“We remain true to a core mission of ours which is to expose ourselves and people like us to the world of wine” 

So, watch this space, because Wine-ish is going to be coming in strong with a lot more to show you.

For more on Wine-ish, their incredible brand, and upcoming projects; follow them on Instagram and Twitter.

What went down at the #IAMORIGINAL Boss Brunch & Panel – Johannesburg

Curated within the beautiful landscape of Jozi on a peaceful Sunday, She Leads Africa in partnership with The Cut Life and Originals by Africa’s Best held a Boss Brunch and panel with the finest Motherland Mogul influencers of Africa.

The location was a hidden oasis of tranquility, The Gabriela’s Tea Room, perfect for some girl chat, champagne was flowing, the crowd was buzzing. What a beautiful Sunday.

In the era of feminism and self-love, you do find some false prophets that don’t live up to their campaign inside as loudly as they may be online.

What was important about the #IAMORIGINAL panel and brunch was that it focused on the challenges black women struggle through.

The theme that stood out from the event was the need for women to back each other up and actually mean it.

For the older and younger generation to join minds and create solutions for the Motherland Moguls that follow.

The event kicked off with a warm welcome from the bubbly Shanon Stanislaus of Originals by Africa’s Best. She spoke about the benefits of their new Coconut Creme range that has nutrition rich formulas, helping your natural hair with the foundation its needs for hair goals.

I tried some of the samples from the gift bag and I am sold on the products, which are available from Clicks nationwide or through The Originals by Africa’s best website.

We then proceeded into an hour-long networking bingo session, that had our Influencers and Motherland Moguls buzzing through the room, the energy was so lively- It felt like the best girl chat session I’ve been to in ages.

We held bingo cards that had questions such as “Who in the room has three pets, Who is an only child”. These were great ice breakers, especially for an introvert like myself.

Back to our tables, we were served incredible dishes by The Gabriela’s Tea Room patrons, everything delicious and mouthwatering.

This amazing panel was moderated by Tahira Joy of The Cut Life joined by Shanon Stanislaus (Originals by Africa’s Best), Enhle Mbali (Actress), Azania Mosaka (Broadcaster) and Jamelia Donaldson (Founder of Treasure Tress).

They spoke on self-care and beauty, ways to effectively run your business and respect yourself and values in the process.

We all got a few tips on how to reach your next Boss level in entrepreneurship through their stories, lessons and best practices.

Azania Mosaka dropped so many nuggets that had all the women in agreement throughout.

“Stick to your values and you’ll always win" – @Azania_ Click To Tweet

In the entertainment industry women are made to choose to get ahead either giving their bodies or having to dumb down their intellect so at to seem less of a threat to colleagues.

As shocking as it may sound, these are challenges most women are still overcoming.

A recurring theme throughout the Boss brunch and panel was how women need to remain educated and curious in our endeavors and not forgetting the people we build our dreams with.

“If you’re starting your race, be invaluable to your team.” – Shanon Stanislaus..

There’s only so much you can do as an individual, once you realize your expertise is invaluable, the impossible is just as attainable as anything.

We truly are better together.

On the theme of staying curious in what your interests are, Jamelia Donaldson of Treasure Tress stated…

You don’t know what you want to do until you’ve tried it all”. Click To Tweet

“ You don’t know what you want to do until you’ve tried it all”.

This tied in so well with the events hashtag of the day #IAMORIGINAL, when you apply yourself and work on what your secret sauce is, what do you really have to lose ?

All in all, this was an event, unlike any other networking event I have been to, which is saying a lot as I have been to a ton of networking sessions and gone home feeling as though I barely received much value from the speakers.

It could be just how intimate the brunch was or the fact that everyone left their egos at the door and simply wanted to celebrate each other.

I have nothing but praise for what these women aimed to share through the event and I believe that we can all learn from them.

As Motherland Moguls we are constantly inspiring those around us, we may not realize it a lot of the times, the best thing we can do is live an intention-driven life in our goals, decisions, and actions.

Work within the passion and not ego, power or status.

I’m definitely looking forward to more events from these powerhouses.


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I have evolved as a traveler: Senzelwe Mthembu shares her ultimate travel guide

27 years old Senzelwe Mthembu is an explorer at heart, a South African traveler, researcher, content creator, and photography enthusiast.

When she’s not curating travel experiences, Senzelwe works as a social researcher at the Centre for Social Development in Africa (CSDA). She focuses on youth transitions into adulthood, youth (un)employment, and on other topics related to young people.

She has a background in politics, philosophy, and economics and obtained her Master’s Degree in Philosophy at the University of the Witwatersrand in 2015.

In this article, she highlights how she’s evolving as a traveler and her experiences traveling on the continent.


What made you fall in love with travel?

My passion for travel started at a young age when, as a family, we would drive down to rural Kwa-Zulu Natal during the festive season.

I remember being fascinated by the change in terrain and context. The first memorable trip for me was to the Kruger National Park in Mpumalanga. So my passion for travel and the African continent started right here, in South Africa.

I later realized the need to showcase my love for travel and to highlight Africa’s beauty to other Africans and to the world.

What kind of traveler are you?

I think I have evolved as a traveler and will probably continue to evolve as my interests change. I was once primarily interested in going to the main tourist attractions and wanting to do things because so many other people had done them.

Travel felt like quite a selfish endeavor. I now take a greater interest in the people from the place that I am traveling to and I want to fully immerse myself in the culture and learn as much as I can.

What interesting social customs have you encountered while traveling the continent?

There are two things which I found interesting. The first was just how friendly and helpful people in Kenya are.

I have not experienced hospitality in the way I experienced it in Kenya. It felt like there was a real concern for other human beings, especially those visiting their country.

The second, which we generally don’t practice here in South Africa, was taking your shoes off when you enter someone’s home. Not only was this the case in the traditional Swahili settlement of Lamu where most of the population is Muslim, but this practice was also found in Nairobi, Kenya where on one evening we invited friends we had made over to our Airbnb home and they did the same.

I found it interesting that young people in Kenya were also taking their shoes off when entering someone’s home.

Paradise on a plate… Your favorite meal on any of your travels?

My favorite meal on my travels was at a very unpretentious, buffet-style traditional Swahili restaurant.

It was the first meal I had in Lamu, Kenya and consisted of pilau (a rice, meat and vegetable dish that is very popular in Kenya), lentils, fish in a spicy tomato stew and other vegetables.

I was so impressed by the flavors.

What do you know now about traveling on a limited budget that you wish you’d known earlier?

I wish I took the plunge earlier! Travel is possible for many people and a range of budgets can be accommodated.

But I do wish I learned the art of saving ahead of time and drawing up a budget. There are so many ways of making travel more affordable, whether it’s taking local public transport, staying in someone’s home or eating where locals eat.

Traveling on a limited budget does not necessarily make your experience any less enjoyable.

Got any travel & safety hacks for passport newbies & solo travelers?

Here are 3 tips for keeping safe and for saving money, especially as a solo traveler.

1. Do your research ahead of time.

The first important things to check for international travel in Africa is whether or not you need any vaccinations such as for Yellow Fever or Malaria.

Also, check luggage dimensions and free baggage policies for the airline or be prepared to pay extra, risk missing your flight or be forced to leave things behind!

2. Choose your accommodation wisely.

Solo travel often means paying more for accommodation since you won’t be sharing the costs with anyone. But that is not always the case!

It’s important to ask yourself what you can afford but also, what you can’t compromise on when it comes to accommodation. If your budget is low, you can still find good accommodation but manage your expectations.

Use Airbnb to book your accommodation as it allows you to book a private room in someone’s house at your stated budget. This makes it safer for you as most of the time you are living with a local who can provide invaluable information and tips about the neighborhood.

Also consider staying in a hostel or backpackers, which will work out to be much cheaper and makes it easier for you to meet like-minded solo travelers.  For both these options, remember to read reviews!

Be as prepared as possible.

Prepare for possible long layovers at airports by having a pillow or blanket, WATER (I cannot stress this one enough) and snacks from the plane or from home.

Carry a moon bag or small backpack for your valuables. It’s so much easier to remember the important things when you can access valuables easily. Write out important contact details and information in multiple places, including on your phone and have extra copies of important documentation in case you lose anything.

And make sure you can access your money from more than one bank card.What is your next travel destination, and why?

I will be traveling to Rwanda and Tanzania soon, but this time it’ll be as part of a beautifully curated group trip where West Africans and Southern Africans, amongst others, will meet in East Africa for an experience of a lifetime.

My sister and I have a shared passion for travel in Africa and so we launched our destination travel company, Lived Experience Travel, this year. Our first international trip is in partnership with Ghana-based, The Travel Clan (@thetravelclan on Instagram) and we are heading to East Africa.

This will be a two-country, 11-day trip to Rwanda and Tanzania that fuses culture, art, traditional food and that celebrates what Africa has overcome and what some of our achievements are.

 

Your final travel advice for motherland moguls?

I think we need to take advantage of what technology and social media have enabled us to do and that is – connect.

The best way to experience a new place is by meeting the locals, having real conversations with people and exploring together.

Another piece of advice is not to wait for others to come along and that local travel is valid! If you notice a pattern of passing travel opportunities up, save some of the money you would have spent on eating out and shopping until you can comfortably do a solo trip or an organized group trip.

Be open-minded, humble yourself to the ways of others, be yourself and learning from my past mistakes – draw up a budget (even if it’s rough).


What do you love the most about your country? Click here to share.

7 power tools every Motherland Mogul needs in her purse to SLAY 2019

What is in your purse?

Every day we see Motherland Moguls go about their bizness in stylish purses and handbags. However, no matter how pretty the bag looks or what the label says, the content of a woman’s purse is a sum of how she takes charge of her day.

The content of a woman’s purse is King!

Every woman has some little essentials and fav things they carry around every day, mostly in a smaller pouch in their purse. It could be hand sanitizer, hand lotion, medicine, perfume, etc. Whatever it is, they help keep you safe and secure to take on each day as they come.

On the other hand, some women carry a lot of baggage around every day, just for the sake of it, which they never use or touch.

#WhatIsInYourPurse? Here are 7 essential tools every woman needs to #SLAY 2019... Find them here Click To Tweet

We’ve put together a list of power tools and essentials every Motherland Mogul needs to conquer each day this year.

1. Cash/ ATM card

Why look like a bag of money if you have no money in Yo bag?

We might be living in a cashless society, but you never ever want to get stranded somewhere without having some cash to bail yourself out.

Even if you’re on your way to the bank, always carry some cash with you (or vex money as Nigerians call it), as well as an ATM card (with cash in it) for emergency purposes.

Another savior for you could be to have your bank app downloaded on your mobile phone, to enable you to transfer money easily.

This is your first commandment to SLAY 2019.

#WhatIsInYourPurse? Why look like a bag of money if you have no money in Yo bag? Always have cash with you! Click To Tweet

2. Samsung Smartphone

Having a good smartphone with a long-lasting battery in your purse at all times keeps you connected with the world and helps you stay organized for your daily routines.

Beyond texting and scrolling through social media all day, there is SO much you can do with your mobile phone. And even much more if its a Samsung smartphone.

(Photo taken with the auto-focus feature on the Samsung Galaxy A7 2018)

With a Samsung smartphone, you can:

  • Take notes and write down fresh ideas in your daily light bulb moments
  • Take the best photos and document live events all day with its outstanding camera quality
  • Create personalized videos and content with the AR emoji tool
  • Collect your client’s contacts by using the SnapBiz app from Samsung Galaxy apps store
  • Keep track of your health and wellness with the Samsung Health app – even better if you add the Samsung Galaxy Watch on your wrist.

In light of our February theme at SLA which is – Good Living, we’re ensuring that all Motherland Moguls have a sound mind, body, and soul.

3. Powder pallet/ Lip gloss

Girl, you never know who you’re going to bump into at the most random place.

Always have some light make-up in your purse to get you fresh-faced for impromptu meetings, or quick drinks with your girls.

In the absence of a powder pallet, let your lipgloss call the shots.

Photo taken with Samsung Galaxy A7 2018

4. Business Cards

Even though you can collect clients info on your mobile using the SnapBiz app on your Samsung smartphone, you might meet some traditional clients who would rather have a hard copy of your business card.

Photo taken with Samsung Galaxy S9

It’s important to always have this in the small section of your purse, for easy accessibility.

5. Notepad + Pen

A notepad or post it pad and a pen equal as back up for your phone. This always comes in handy for when you have to write down contact details or ideas in a moment’s notice when you’re out of your comfort zone.

6. Sanitary towel/ Tampon

Nature always has its way with us, and we really can’t cheat it, but you should always be prepared for the “red robot”.

If possible, have a pad/ tampon in every possible place, like your car, office desk, laptop bag, etc, just so you’re never caught in a compromising situation.

If you feel you have a pattern and are never caught unawares, do it for the culture. You never know, a sister might be in need of this, and you get to save the day.

7. A Book

Just because #WeStayLearning, always have with you a book to pass time while commuting or waiting to go into your meeting.

Now depending on the size of your purse, you could either have a paperback book, or an e-book on your smartphone.

So tell us Motherland Mogul, #WhatIsInYourPurse?

Keep track of your health and wellness with the Samsung Health app - even better if you add the Samsung Galaxy Watch on your wrist -@samsungmobileng Click To Tweet


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5 Female artists making moves in Botswana

Breaking into the creative industry is not easy but there are pioneers paving the way. These young women, taking over the music industry in Botswana are Motherland Moguls in their own right.

They are taking over not just locally but internationally as well inspiring a new sound. What is inspiring by all these women, is not only their music.

It’s their work in pushing the industry forward and creating opportunities for other artists through meaningful collaboration.

Let’s meet all 5 of them, shall we?


 Thato Jessica

Thato Jessica started her career singing as the only female member of X-Caliber – a Gospel Hip-Hop group which gained its popularity in the country through their unique sound and positive message.

She left the group in 2015 to pursue her solo career.

The Mapoka born artist who has a degree in Architecture from the University of Botswana started her solo career being featured on Chef Gustos song – Take Your Timewhich revealed the singer’s talent and capacity to stand on her own.

 

The poet and visual artist released her single – Show me, which has since been followed by her Seasons EP, and consequently amazing songs like Problem Feat. Veezo,  and her latest offering Addicted.

Her music genre is R&B, Hip-Hop, Motswako, and Soul. You can find her music on her Youtube channel.

Samantha Mogwe

Samantha Mogwe – born to a Motswana father and a Zambian mother, brings a fusion of neo-soul/RnB to her music. This artist/songwriter performs on local and international stages and well recognized for her work in Botswana.

Samantha is a multifaceted individual who places great value on education and its re-inventive qualities. She acquired her degree Cum Laude in Theology which she attained at Baptist Theological College in Randburg, South Africa.

Some of her early career accomplishments include being 2nd runner-up for My African Dream Junior singing category in 2003 and winner of the Gabz Karaoke Idols in 2004.

She made the top 24 of African Idols as the only representative from Botswana in 2008.

Samantha has performed at the monthly Exodus Live Poets events as well as their annual festivals alongside artists such as Neo Quashie, TJ Dema, Phil Rotz, KK the beatboxer from 2004-2010 and won an award for “My African Dream – Living The Dream” in 2010.

Her first album Transition released in 2013 was a huge success leading to performances on various local and international stages of note.

She is currently a radio host on Gabz-FM and also recently released new music titled Secrets which is receiving recognition in Botswana.

The workout loving singer is a mother and wife and was born in Serowe, Botswana. Her music can be found on Amazon and on her YouTube Channel.

Mpho Sebina

Mpho Sebina is a self-taught and learning musician whose music can only be described as Afrofuturistic soul and R&B.

Growing up in a family of music lovers her writing and singing style is inspired by the likes of Sade, Bob Marley, Brenda Fassie, Boom Shaka, Lebo Mathosa and others which you can hear as part of her influences in her music. She studied and graduated with an Honours Degree in International Business from Multimedia University in Malaysia where she performed for local spaces and poetry sessions and made her exploration into music more than just a passion.

Malaysia is where the song Loves Light was written, inspired by the song Tselane by Black Jacks. She released a full length titled album Loves Light and released an EP titled Neo which means Gift this year.

Mpho is the founder of Naked Soul Sessions which gives a platform to local artists including some on this list. She has performed on various stages locally and internationally and is featured on Global Citizen as artists to watch.

You can listen to more of her music on Soundcloud her Youtube Channel.

Amantle Brown

Amantle Brown is an R&B artist who started on a local talent show called My Star and made it to the finale. Her first album titled Sa Pelo gave the artist her place in the industry with hits like Black Mampatile and Moratiwa which dominated local radio airwaves.She was nominated for several awards including the Botswana Music Union Awards Best RnB and Best New Comer in 2015. Since then she has also collaborated with other artists with amazing music.

She released Follo, a romantic song featuring one of the local artists which was inspired by Afro Beats which exposed her artistic range and embrace of a more African sound.

She is a songwriter, singer, and performer who is known to deliver quality all rounded performances. Her work now extends to being a judge on Melody Gospel Television on Botswana Television.

She released a much-anticipated sophomore project in April with the stand out track being Bereka Mosadi which means Work, Woman – an anthem for Southern African women to pursue their dreams.

You can listen to more of her music on Youtube.

Louisa April

Louisa April is a contemporary soul and R&B singer, songwriter and musician. Her acoustic music is mostly emotional and is also infused and highlighted with alternative folk and soul.

Born to a Namibian mother and Nigerian father, Louisa spent her first seven years in Namibia before returning to be raised in Gaborone, Botswana.

Louisa grew up behind a book. This led to her trying out writing in its various forms (poetry, songs) she also had a natural talent for singing. She pursued a degree in Computer Science in Russia, is a committee member of Purple Crown Society and a Global Shaper in the Gaborone Hub.
She has performed at MILO Concert Hall in Russia and alongside Tafnaz the Acoustic Badboi at the Jazz Exchange in Botswana. Louisa has also performed for the Gaborone International Music Festival and Naked Soul Sessions.

Her music can be found on Sound cloud and on her Youtube channel.


Interested in contributing for She Leads Africa? Click here.

How I Became a Social Media Influencer

I started my Instagram page back in 2015 as a fitness inspiration account to keep me accountable while I was doing Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide also known as BBG.

There were a whole bunch of girls around the world who started their guide around the same time as me so I gained followers relatively quickly because my page was a source of motivation for all the new girls starting.

My page grew as BBG grew in popularity, and it eventually grew to where it is now. I became an ambassador for BBG Cape Town in 2016 and we hosted regular BBG workout events until the end of 2017.

Over the years I continued to document my fitness journey and post relatable content. Workout memes, inspirational quotes, and transformation pictures really motivated me and seemed to connect well with people on similar journeys.

I got into fitness to empower myself because I had no confidence in myself before I started working out regularly, even though I played sport throughout my life.

I started my fitness page in 2015 but my health and fitness journey started in 2013 back when I used to use Twitter for workout motivation.

If you’re a blogger, photographer, fashion stylist, makeup artist. Read this...we're spilling the tea Click To Tweet

Before you go on this influencer journey, follow these steps:

1. Decide your niche and stick to it

 

It’s easier to grow a page if you specialize in one or a few things so people will know what to expect from you.

Think about it, when you follow an account that’s not a friend or celebrity it’s usually because they post something specific that you like eg. make-up tutorials, fitness or fashion inspiration, food recipes etc.

2. Think of yourself as a brand

If you’re building a brand, there has to be some level of self-reflection your page needs to be an honest extension of you.

What do you stand for? What’s your vibe? Make sure your feed represents your personal brand.

3. Figure out your why

What’s the purpose/aim of your account?

Is it purely for fun or is it business? And then decide how much time you want to invest in it to match what you expect to gain from it.

4. Have a theme for your pictures

Everybody likes things, make sure you have a flow going on your page. There are so many categories to pick from. You can use a consistent color theme or even have a particular object in all your photos to test your creativity.

Even if it’s just the same filter, aesthetically planned feeds are nice to look at.

5. Work, Work, Work

Put relative time and effort into your posts and try to be as creative as possible. Try having “content creation” sessions once or multiple times a week like you have study sessions.

And/or take down any ideas that pop in your mind in your memo pad so you can use them for post and caption ideas later.

6. Socialize

That’s the whole point of social media! Respond to your comments and engage with the accounts you follow so they are encouraged to engage with you too.

The more engagement you have the greater the chances are of your page being discovered by people and brands.

7. Use hashtags

The hashtag game is always changing but it doesn’t hurt to experiment with a few and see how it affects the engagement of your posts.

Also, try to use less popular hashtags so ones that have less than 1M posts. You’ll have to search for hashtags in your niche and find the ones that people use but don’t abuse like #fitness or #love

8. Collaborate with people in your niche

Follow and engage with accounts in your niche to let other people interested in your niche see your profile, the more your account has seen the greater chances you have of gaining new followers.

You can also do story shoutouts with people in your niche for more exposure or even try to ask them out for coffee.

9. Track your engagement

Pay attention to what posts people respond to best. Figure out what content your followers enjoy viewing. Track the times you get the best engagement, that usually helps get followers.

10. Have fun

It’s really not that deep unless you see it as a business, then different rules apply but don’t let social media get to you.

Remember, Instagram isn’t real life and real life has so much more to offer than aesthetics. That doesn’t mean I don’t love a pretty bowl of oats, just remember to keep everything in context.

The Bottom Line

Relax!

When you focus less on structure after you’ve done your content planning, more ideas tend to come your way. If you are someone takes their own photos.

I would recommend walking around with a portable camera or learn some tricks with your phone. People really do gravitate to someone they sense is genuine or can add value. I think you need to stay up to date with all the changes and continuously adapt your content (Try to think of ways you can make yourself invaluable) if you really want to slay the game.

For more on Shalom’s fitness journey and amazing fitspo, find her on the gram.


  Interested in contributing for She Leads Africa? Click here.

 

Chioma Ezekwesili highlights the Essentials to Building and Growing Your Blog

“The main essential for starting a blog is to first have a passion for something”. – Chioma Ezekwesili

Blogging is a great platform to express yourself, build a brand, and even make a source of income. Due to the diverse benefits of blogging, there is an influx of blogs and bloggers.

This can make the process of building and growing your blog daunting. You might question whether it is worth it and how do you go about building this presence online?

In this interview with fashion and lifestyle blogger Chioma Ezekwesili, she provides inspiration for prospective and current bloggers on her experience of starting and building her blog and brand.


 When and why did you decide to start your fashion and lifestyle blog and what were the essentials to beginning it?

 

The main essential for starting a blog is to first have a passion for something. It could be cooking, fashion,  gossip, politics, and other topics. You don’t have to be an English guru but you should always endeavor to read something new about your passion.

This is significant because you can then provide your readers with new insights into your niche. In addition, you will be able to come up with new and diverse ways to relate to your readers.

Secondly, you should draft a consistent timetable. It’s hard at the beginning but once you start, keep at it. Every day, have a topic you can write on. What will help you is approaching each day with an open mind? Also, make sure the photos, write up or videos are original because it allows your readers to connect with your originality.

As for myself, I started my fashion and lifestyle blog in 2015 but I couldn’t keep up with it. This was because I started the previous blog with the sole purpose of making money. The blog was just alive for about three months and that was it.

Then, I officially started www.yhitschioma.com in July 2016. This blog is out of my love for fashion. I also felt the need to express my opinion on lifestyle tips. I try to make my posts inspirational. I merge fashion styles to relatable inspirational quotes. I want to let people know that fashion is more than wearing designer clothes. Fashion is also a way of passing a positive message to the people around you.

I grew my 7k followers on Instagram by posting my Sunday bests every Sunday and tagged it #fashionforchurch - @Yh_ItsChioma Click To Tweet

What is the best platform for intending media influencers to be on and why?

Instagram and Twitter are the best platforms, dependent on the type of influencer you are. Instagram is mainly for fashion, lifestyle, and style. It’s best for visual appeal through photos and videos. Then, Twitter is good for sports lovers, especially soccer.

The discussions on Twitter around the leagues is something that anybody building his/her brand around soccer needs to be on. Twitter is also a good platform for having discussions about politics, sports, music, health tips and more.

I advise that you be linked on both platforms. That way, whatever you post on one can reflect on the other. However, more attention should be placed on the social media platform primarily for your type of brand.

Social media metrics are ever changing and for those looking to make an impact online, the competition is increasing. Is it possible to grow one’s social media organically?

 

Yes, you can grow organic followers and I am a testimony to it. I grew my 7k followers on Instagram by posting my Sunday bests every Sunday and tagged it #fashionforchurch. Every Sunday, people were looking forward to what I wore to church. Once you find out what your followers like, stick to it and be consistent.

Do not buy followers because interactions on your post will not match your followership. That matters because people and brand will immediately see through that.

The first year might not be easy but keep posting. Also, make sure you use hashtags because they work like magic.

What is your process of growing your brand presence?

 

Building your brand starts with a conscious effort to actually build the brand.

  • Find the social media platform that suits what you are trying to build
  • Try to make your followership on any social media platform that you are on organic. If you are on Instagram, never miss relevant hashtags like #MCM #MondayMotivation #WCW #TBT #FBF or things like that.

You can even come up with your own personal hashtag that people can follow through your post. For me, it’s #LifeOfAStartingEntrepreneur and #yhitschioma.

If Twitter is your platform, be sure to check the trending hashtags and draft your tweets around it.

  • Finally, you have to be consistent your post on social media. Be sure to have your contact details available for people to reach you. Reply and like comments so that there is a discussion around your post.

How can one stand out and be unique online?

You stand out by being real. Don’t try to be in competition with anyone. Rather, you should strive to be a better version of yourself.

Keep doing what you love and don’t copy others. Be original with your posts.

What steps should an aspiring media influencer take to attract opportunities to work with organizations, brands, and collaborations?

 

Keep your profile open not private. Make sure you give credit to other brands you are wearing or using on your page. Then, you get other brands to notice that you are promoting other brands. They will then want to work with you.

For blog collaborations, if you never reach out to people, you might not have anyone reach out to you. Last year, I sent about 5-6 messages to other bloggers like myself for collaboration.

However, I got turned down by about 4 and I didn’t mind. I did a collaboration with the bloggers that wanted to. The result is that other bloggers saw it and then reached out to me for collaboration. That’s why you have to make sure you put yourself out there.

Then, you have to keep doing what you have been doing using hashtags to get noticed. In time, the right brands will find you.

You can also send DMs to them by telling them you will like to work with them. Give them an offer they can’t resist. An offer that will help both parties build their brand.

You stand out by being real. Don’t try to be in competition with anyone - @Yh_ItsChioma Click To Tweet

How does one stay motivated to be able to produce and create?

 

The main way to stay motivated is to remember why you started your blog. Remember the vision you had for your brand and hold on to it. Sometimes, it might not pay off immediately but with consistency and determination, it will supersede your expectation.

Lastly, reach out to longtime brands and know how they were able to stay motivated. Do not beat yourself up, especially when you see other influencers “doing” better.

Take that as a push and initiative to work harder. Always celebrate the big and small victories you might have because that will motivate you to keep at it.


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Social Media: The Future of Customer Service?

It’s 6 am on a Tuesday and your alarm goes off for work. You leisurely roll over to grab your phone to stop the bothersome ringing. Yawn, stretch, scroll through your social media feed.

Sounds about right?

Our daily lives are deeply intertwined with technology, from the moment we wake up, to the time we go to sleep. The average daily time spent on social media is a whopping 116 minutes! That’s almost 2 hours a day!

It’s no surprise then, that for brands and businesses, social media has naturally evolved from being a platform for marketing, sharing content and driving sales to also an avenue for meeting customer service needs.

Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at some stats real quick:

  • 67% of consumers have engaged a brand’s social media for customer service needs
  • 43% of consumers between the ages of 18-29 years old are more likely to use a brand’s social media sites for customer service interactions
  • 56% of consumers reported they would never use a company again after a poor customer service experience
  • 32% of consumers expect a response on social media within 30 minutes
  • Customers who engage with companies over social media spend up to 40% more money with those companies than other customers

Customers regard brands’ social media accounts as actual customer service channels, so it is imperative that brands view themselves in the same light.

I’ve quickly come to the discovery that when I need a quick resolution to an issue from a business, my best bet is to tweet at them. No phone calls, no emails, not even a physical visit. Those 240 characters always do the trick! Social media is a double-edged sword for brands.

It’s a public, transparent forum where happy customers go to sing your praises but also the same platform in which irate customers go to unabashedly ‘drag’ you.

Consumers are quickly realizing that smart brands who value their image- as they should- are quicker to resolve their complaints and issues when aired on social media. Click To Tweet

Utilizing social channels for customer service purposes is no easy feat, but here are some steps in which to manage it effectively:

Utilize Social Media Listening Tools

There are various social media listening tools out there in which a simple google search will reveal, but my personal favorites are Hootsuite and Google alerts. 

Hootsuite is one of the most widely used social media monitoring tools which allows you to track and monitor certain words, phrases, terms and accounts across various social media platforms while Google alerts can be considered to be a free alternative which allows you to do the same, just across the web.

Contain Issues Before They Escalate

 Businesses must be proactive in ensuring they utilize other servicing channels such as phones and email to resolve the issues of aggrieved customers before they take to twitter, facebook, Instagram or even snapchat to complain. 

In the event a business isn’t quick enough to rectify issues, damage control is important when customers take to social media to vent and share negative experiences they may have encountered with your brand.

You know what they say, prevention is better than cure!

Respond Quickly!

 I like to call us millennials “the microwave generation”. From ordering meals to hailing cabs and even keeping up to date with the latest news and gossip, we’re so used to utilizing technology to satisfy our ‘instant everything’ needs. 

We want what we want when we want it. Chatbots are an effective tool for small business owners who don’t necessarily have the resources to respond live to client inquiries or complaints 24/7.

Also, they can be programmed to respond to frequently asked questions on platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook, websites and more. This reduces the need for business owners to be available at all hours of the day.

Take It Off The Timeline

 In the event, irate customers go directly to social channels, as a business owner, you must pacify the customer publicly and take the conversation off the timeline as quickly as possible. 

This is particularly important when the issues are complex or you require the customer’s personal information such as a phone number, date of birth or address to resolve the issue.

In situations where the issue is quick and easy to resolve, it’s a great idea to engage the customer politely and efficiently right there on the timeline for all to see!

This not only reinforces the trust within existing customers but also showcases your brand in a great light to potential clients.

As a business owner, you must position yourself as one step ahead of your client - @TheBrandingP Click To Tweet

It’s no secret that companies don’t want their dirty laundry aired for current and prospective customers to see, and rightfully so!

As a business owner, you must position yourself as one step ahead of your client. Ensure your products and services deliver on your brand promise; and in the inevitable event where client dissatisfaction occurs, establish processes and procedures to manage these situations effectively.


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7 lessons you can learn from Issa Rae and her InSecure journey

Issa Rae is an American writer, actor, and producer of the famous NBO series Insecure. She started out creating videos on YouTube when she got tired of seeing the same type of movies about black people.

Issa Rae has been nominated for the golden globe award, her series has won the shorty award for the best web series. She also heads a media company called Issa Rae presents.

If you haven’t watched any episode of InSecure you`ve just found yourself a new best friend. It’s like the dope movie for every girl seeking for some kind of succor after a hard week of work!

It’s so relatable and funny. The story is centered around Issa, a black woman trying to keep it cool with her job in a non-profit, her relationship and her social life.

I came across her show IssaRae presents on a lazy day when I was scrolling through my YouTube feed, and I was stuck. IssaRaePresents does not come up short. Trust me, they never disappoint.

And oh, we’ve been waiting for the third series of Insecure like…

And as usual, we won’t be disappointed. Now back to the main point.

The backstage of creating media content is filled with people who never make it to the big screen.  Writers, producers, camera, videographers, directors, editors etc.

A lot of work goes into creating what you finally see on your screen.  The backstage of the movie industry is dominated by males especially in production and directing.

How did a black young woman break that glass ceiling to be her own boss? Let’s look at these lessons from her.

On Starting Out:

“I love creating content and YouTube was super accessible. I started my first show in senior year of college in Stanford and I kept growing that audience”.

On Being Consistent:

“I had two web series before the misadventures of the Awkward Black Girl. Those series did not gain instant fame but I was consistent throughout releasing those videos by 10 am every Monday and promoting constantly”

Stop finding the ways that you can’t and start finding the ways that you can - @IssaRae Click To Tweet

On Working Hard

“People constantly make excuses on why they can’t follow their dreams. Stop finding the ways that you can’t and start finding the ways that you can.

Think about what you have now, friends, a camera, a room, whatever you have.  Figure out a way to use what you have to make it work.”

On Teamwork

“I tend to have strong opinions about the characters in my shows because I feel I know them personally. Also, I try to loosen the rein and allow debates to go on.

I love collaborating because there are people with a lot of great ideas I love hearing out. Resisting the urge to outrightly say no has been one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned”

On Creativity

“Life inspires me. I love little moments. I just like real life. Everybody has different areas of discomfort and seeing how certain things concerns people that won’t even matter to others intrigues me. I try to understand what makes people think that way and learn from them”

On Overcoming Challenges

“There are definitely challenges. At one end I want to take as many opportunities as I can, on the other hand, I do not want to disappoint myself and other people by not meeting up with deadlines.

Trying to find that work/life balance for the past few years has been challenging”

For Entrepreneurs in Film/Media

“Know your goal. Make sure agencies & companies approaching you are aware of the vision you are working with.

Be sure to have a good team.  Utilizing the people around me was the best thing that happened to me. The team members that I have now started from the ground up with me, that organic growth is part of the reason this show has been a success.

Issa Rae has always kept it 100% real, affirming the fact that her show.  InSecure, is a typification of her life as a young black woman trying to make it in a community that seems to tell her what to do.

She has talked openly about her challenges and fears, and what accepting people’s approval has been for her. Her mother at first did not even agree to watch the show.  

From all of these, I learned two important lessons:

1. People crave authenticity

They’ll gravitate towards people who are real and original. If you step into a new place and you’re a sheep amongst a pack of wolves or the only black female in the room, as long as you have a voice and you keep to that voice, people will gravitate towards you.

2. Everything takes time

Issa affirmed that the first video she did on YouTube was crap, but as years went by and she gathered a team, it got better.

You can tell the difference between her past videos in IssaRaePresents on YouTube and now.

Just like a tree grows, slowly building stronger and deeper foundation which in the end will be able to stand the test of to such is the journey of a business which grows organically.

P.S – All quotes from Issa were gotten from various videos you can find in the link below;


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JESSICA NAA ADJELEY KONNEY: I TURNED MY BOREDOM INTO PASSION FOR FASHION BLOGGING

Jessica Naa Adjeley Konney found living alone quite boring so she chose to stay on campus after lectures to while away time.

As spending time on campus meant more time on the internet, she discovered blogging and entertainment blogs in Ghana like Ameyaw Debrah. This led to her decision to turn her boredom into a passion to keep her busy after school hours.

Even though she knew nothing about blogging, she took a bold step and her experience in journalism/writing to set up a blog called Fashion 101 which later turned to Trendsnblendsgh as she saw the need to rebrand once her blog began to grow.

She chose fashion blogging because there was no platform specifically dedicated to fashion in Ghana especially Ghanaian fashion. Over time, her blog has grown to become one of the best in Ghana and the Harper’s Bazaar of Africa called Trendsnblendsgh the go-to online hub for everything African Fashion starting with Ghana.

Jessica now covers fashion events, features fashion entrepreneurs, offers style tips, offers professional advice to young fashion brands etc.


 Describe how you first got into blogging

 

Blogging for me started as a hobby to while away time during my days at the Ghana Institute of Journalism. I used to spend so much time on campus after school back in the day because I had nowhere to go as I lived alone, so being at home was quite boring.

While on campus, I surfed the internet a lot and that was when I realized that there were entertainment websites like Ameyaw Debrah, Ghana gist blogging about entertainment and there were fewer blogs on fashion so that was the moment I decided to turn my boredom into a passion to keep me busy after school hours.

Interestingly, I had no clue about blogging whatsoever but I took the bold step to set up my blog using blogger.com and called it Fashion 101.

With no direction whatsoever I set out to start fashion blogging. I thought to myself that once I had experience in journalism and writing I could definitely put together some content for this blog and I guess I did.

How do you keep your social media pages lit and drive traffic to your blog?

 

I see myself as a fashion journalist because I’m always on the lookout for contents that will make the news.

After every post, I made sure to share the link to my blog on all my social media platforms (back then it was just Facebook and Twitter) and I consistently kept sharing.

I also attended fashion events and introduced myself as a fashion blogger because it was the most common term people could understand. This wasn’t easy initially because it was new to event organizers but consistency and relevant content got me where I am today.

With regards to keeping the social media pages lit, we take a lot of time to curate images from different sources.

We are always looking out for the best photos that will not only engage our audience but keep our timeline clean as well. We sometimes collaborate with photographers for some of the stunning images but quite often we source these photos from other pages or brands.

How do you get clients and generate revenue/income?

 

For a long time, I felt the numbers or traffic wasn’t enough for me to monetize so I explored other ways to raise revenue or income.  

I started offering digital marketing services to clients for as low as about 100Ghc back then. Then, I also charged brands who promoted their lookbooks on my blog and platforms and that’s basically been how I make money.

Trendsnblendsgh has gone into brand consultation services and helping young brands establish themselves all at a small fee. Monetization is however on our to-do list for the year.

People don't see your dream as big as you do so don't rely on them for validation - @dje_djelyn Click To Tweet

Would you say fashion blogging is a great financial plan? Do you see a future with this career path?

 

To be honest it’s not a great financial plan unless you’re determined to make it one. It’s new and fresh to people, especially in Ghana.

Fashion entrepreneurs here don’t understand why you need to be paid for your services and it’s quite difficult and frustrating trying to get them to understand. I’d say have a financial backing, extra sources of income so it sustains the passion.

At this point, I see it as a great career path for me. To be an editor-in-chief of one of Africa’s most renowned fashion website and some more career opportunities in this same field.

Did you encounter any challenges when you started Trendsandblendgh? What did you learn from it?

 

Always waiting for approval or validation/support. When I started trendsandblendsgh, I wasn’t so confident as an individual and also in what I was doing.  

I was seeking validation from others to tell me if this post was good enough or this idea was great. What this did was to slow me down entirely because until I had gotten approval or even support from someone I wouldn’t move. It’s one thing I have learned to fight and rise from.

People don’t see your dream as big as you do so if you want to rely on them for validation, approval or support you might as well not start anything at all.

Other than you, which 3 fashion bloggers are your absolute favorite and why?

 

For style bloggers I love Irony of Ashi, her style is simply elegant.

I dote on Afua Rida, I love her uniqueness in styling.

I also love my friend Nuel Bans of debonair Afrik, I love his creative issues and admire his passion.

Who is your number one fashion inspiration, favorite fashion magazine, and designer?

 

With the rise of style influencers, it’s becoming extremely difficult to stick to one fashion icon or style icon. I tend to pick up inspiration from different people.

Elle Magazine is my favorite, but from Africa, it’ll be Glitz Magazine.

I love Christie Brown certainly a wish to own more CB pieces in my closet.

If you could be any fashion icon for a day, who will you be and which local or international celebrities closet would you like to raid?

 

I’d definitely be Anna Wintour. There’s so much I’d love to influence in the fashion industry even if it’s for a day and doing it in the perfect bob cut and dark shades definitely a yes!

I could spend the entire day in Tracee Ellis Ross and Bonang Matheba’s closets trying out their clothes, shoes etc. I would practically sleep in there.

What has been your proudest achievement?

 

There has been so many but I’d say my interview with BBC Africa – Lerato Mbele remains my proudest. I grew up watching BBC and secretly wanting to be on BBC.

So, to have been on BBC Africa talking fashion was definitely a winner for me and anyone who’s believed in me as well.

I want trendsandblendsgh to become one of the largest online fashion news site in Africa with its hub in Ghana- @dje_djelyn Click To Tweet

What is your endgame with trendsandblendsgh? Are you close to achieving it?

 

I’m nowhere near the endgame I must say, I want trendsandblendsgh to become one of the largest online fashion news site in Africa with its hub in Ghana, a team of writers, creatives and all that is needed to make it work.

What are some of your current fashion obsessions and beauty essentials?

 

I’m obsessed with jumpsuits, black outfits, and nude shoes.

Current Beauty essentials: matte lipstick in red and burgundy. Hand cream, a pack of tissues and face powder.


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