“I Learnt Perseverance After My Fire Accident” Meet Eco-friendly Entrepreneur, Chidiebere Nnorom

If there’s one thing Chidiebere Nnorom wants us to know, it is that she’s a typical Igbo girl with a never die attitude, never ever wanting to give up! Even after going through a rough patch, she refused to succumb and found her way back up.

Chidiebere Nnorom is the Co-founder of Paperbag by Ebees. She has a strong passion for the environment, social impact and business.  

Watch this space as Chidiebere is determined to change norms and make waves as an entrepreneur, environmentalist and a young global leader. Scroll down to read more of her story.


What’s your background story?

Before my business grew to the stage it is at now, I went through a lot! I was involved in a fire accident which kept me indoors for a while. I had to stop business operations and lay off staff. It was unbelievable. Imagine being at a point in life where you are clueless about what to do next. Well, that was me then.

It took me almost a year to heal. I couldn’t work or do anything. My savings had been zapped and I kept wondering how I’d scale through. There was a personal instinct to do something, I knew it wasn’t the time to give up but to breakthrough! I needed to turn the light on in my heart and that I did. 

To cut the long story short, the accident was a validation to move on. Months later, I picked up my business and started building up gradually. Next thing I knew, business calls were coming in! People said they saw the paper bag and wanted to order. Some of the paper bags they saw were made way before the accident. The referral rate was massive! I was so elated and grateful I didn’t give up back then.

What ignited the spark to start Paperbag by Ebees?

In 2016, we started off as a food delivery business but one of the problems we faced was the packaging, we just couldn’t find the right packaging. With a background in geography and my love for the environment, we decided to start creating eco-friendly packages.

There were a lot of “buts!” That was the year the foreign exchange was high, fuel scarcity and other things kept creeping in. We had to take a step back to think of how we could make it. My team and I carried out some research, tried out different products, monitored what was moving and what wasn’t. Everything was coming up gradually.

Before I knew it, we made it official!

 

What business challenges have you faced and how have those challenges shaped your mindset?

At the early stages, our major challenge was accessing raw materials in Nigeria. It meant having to buy in large quantities and also importing from China. We had other expenses to run the business and couldn’t afford it.

This caused a setback. We had to think of how to make it ourselves. We carried out some research and found alternative ways to come up with the resources. That was when we started the business for real!

Business development was our second challenge, it took us a while to see that the market was ready. We had to try out different products to see if the market will accept us. It was quite hard, to be honest. After a series of experiments and market research, we were able to count a milestone. Finally! We achieved growth.

These experiences really shaped our mindset as a company. To every business owner out there, celebrate your little wins! We count every little effort we make as a win and an opportunity to do better. I’m learning to take joy in the little things, every small success is a validation. I say to myself, “Chidiebere well done!” It tells me that every step I took at the time was worth it.

 

How do you come up with the designs on your paper bags?

I won’t take all the credit, I have a really good team. My own inspiration came from purpose. The point is, if we chase our real purpose there are things we won’t struggle to do. I found my passion, and everything fell into place.

Finding the right people who know what they are doing is key. I also took some time to learn product design. It’s a combination of all these things.

 

What have you learned so far from running this business?

I was in paid employment and transitioning was quite drastic.

Take your time and plan! If you’re transitioning from paid employment to business, have enough money to cover up for your expenses. Make sure that the business can take care of your bills. There is no need to go through stress because you’re an entrepreneur, life can be easy!

FACEBOOK LIVE WITH JUDITH OWIGAR: HOW I BUILT MY BUSINESS TO DRIVE SOCIAL CHANGE (AUG 22)

What impact does your business have in your community?

It’s no news that companies take Corporate Social Responsibility very seriously. It’s like a magic door that opens up more opportunities and this is why. The world is ever-changing and businesses are looking for more ways to connect with their customers.

As a BOSS Lady, beyond making the $$$, you need to look at the bigger picture on how you can create a positive change in your community.

Listen To Me Hello GIF by Swing Left

Firstly, when your business is seen making an impact, it shows that you have an interest in social issues which will help raise your company profile, attract new customers and/or identify new opportunities.

Ain’t that the goal?

Get your business to impact your community and make a difference with these tips from @owigarj, founder of JuaKali Workforce on August 22nd at 12PM WAT! Click here for more: bit.ly/judithowigar Click To Tweet

Remember, being socially responsible is good for the bottom line.

If you want to learn how to create, craft and manage social change strategies, join us on Thursday, August 22nd, for a Facebook Live with Judith Owigar, founder of JuaKali Workforce, who’ll be dishing out tips to help your business aim for change.

Some of the topics we’ll cover:

  • How to discover what social issues are most relevant to you and your community.
  • 5 different ways your business can create a positive social change while you make profit.
  • Finding purpose and grit in social projects.
  • Impact vs Sustainability.

Facebook LIVE details:

Date: Thursday, August 22nd, 2019

Time: 12PM Lagos // 1PM Joburg// 2PM Nairobi

Watch Facebook Live with Judith:

Facebook Live with Judith Owigar – How I built my business to drive social change

She Leads Africa Facebook Live with Judith Owigar, founder of @JukailaWorkforce, shares her experience on how she built a business that is impacting communities in Kenya. Join the She Leads Africa community by visiting bit.ly/WelcomeToSLA

Posted by She Leads Africa on Thursday, August 22, 2019

About Judith

Judith Owigar is passionate about initiatives involving youth, women and all things technology. With a Masters in Applied Computing from the University of Nairobi, she’s the founder JuaKali Workforce, an online micro-jobs platform that connects young people to short term jobs in Kenya’s informal sector.

In 2015, Judith shared a panel with President Barack Obama of the U. S. and President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit. She is a 2015 East African Acumen Fellow and a 2014 international Focus fellow.

She has been named as one of the Top 40 under 40 women by the Business Daily newspaper in Kenya and has been recognized with the Anita Borg Change Agent Award by the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology.

FACEBOOK LIVE: GIRL TALK WITH DR. FEYI AND SHE LEADS AFRICA (NOV 28)

What’s it like being a girl?

There are a whole bunch of things women go through, our emotional and physical kit bags are always filled up and frankly, we all need a sister to talk to.

It’s funny how we live in the century of the millennials where almost everyone is very open-minded but women are still embarrassed to talk about specific topics regarding their bodies, their sexuality and the female nature overall.

Got some woman issues bottled up inside? Lighten up! We’re bringing you an opportunity to get all your questions answered.

Join our girls exclusive Facebook LIVE with Dr. Feyi on Wed, 28th Nov @ 5pm WAT. It’s a deep-dive into everything! Click To Tweet

Dr. Feyishara Kuku is an OB/GYN and marriage therapist who has several years of experience in dealing with women’s health and family therapy.

Join us on Wednesday, 28th November, as we host a Facebook Live Chat with Dr. Feyisara Kuku, themed Girl talk with Dr. Feyi. It’s going to be a deep dive to all the things you’re probably shy to talk about.

Some of the topics we’ll cover

  • What you need to know about Breast Cancer
  • How to tackle Clinical & Social Depression
  • Let’s talk about Sex and STI’s
  • Before you say  “I do”… Girl, listen
Register below to access this opportunity and submit questions that you would like Dr. Feyi to answer.

Facebook Live Details:

Date: Wednesday, November 28th

Time: GA, USA 12pm // Lagos 6pm // Johannesburg 7pm

Where: facebook.com/sheleadsafrica/

 


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About Feyishara

Feyishara Kuku is an OB/GYN, a marriage and family therapist and the Co-Founder of Sarthelpline. She’s also a mom and a Peace Activist.

In her journey as a therapist, she has had the opportunity to work with high- achieving men, CEOs, baby boomers, college students, and affluent clients who are looking for a counseling experience that is tailored to their unique needs.

She specializes in clinical issues as addictions, crisis, betrayal, trauma, faith-based issues, leadership development, stress management, maximizing productivity, divorce, finances, and career counseling.

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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FACEBOOK LIVE WITH ANULI OLA-OLANYI: CAREER HACKS FOR MILLENIALS (JUNE 26)

Hello, millennials!

You’ve probably received advice on how you can “build a more successful career” from a handful of people. However, very few people give a break down of how you can advance yourself, or what to do when you face a challenge, like when your boss is not paying you what you’re worth – sounds familiar?

Designing a career you’re passionate about or deciding on a career path can be challenging, and the chances of getting a good class that can really teach you how to do that are slim.

Well, with a few career hacks, you can take small steps every day that will bring you success in the long run and that’s why you don’t want to miss this discussion!

Join us on Tuesday, June 26th, for a Facebook Live chat with Añuli Ola-Olaniyi, founder of HEIR Women Development, who will be giving advice on how to achieve the ultimate career for yourself.

Añuli believes women are strategizing to become empowered and rule the world alongside men. She has effectively delivered cutting edge training that has elevated people both in their professional and personal life.

Design the ultimate career with @anuliolaolaniyi, founder of @heirwoman on June 26th at 1PM WAT! Click here for more: bit.ly/AnuliOla Click To Tweet

Some of the topics we’ll cover

  • So you got the job, now what?
  • Career habits to avoid
  • How to maintain career capacity
  • How to handle job rejection

Facebook LIVE details:

Date: Tuesday, June 26th, 2018

Time: 1PM Lagos // 2PM Joburg// 3PM Nairobi

Watch Facebook Live with Anuli:

She Leads Africa Facebook Live with Anuli Ola-Olaniyi, founder of @heirwoman, discussing career hack for millenials. Join the She Leads Africa community by visiting SheLeadsAfrica.org/join!

Posted by She Leads Africa on Tuesday, June 26, 2018

About Anuli

Añuli Ola-Olaniyi is the founder of HEIR Women Development, an enterprise created to support young women in capacity and skills building in a career.

Prior to this, Anuli began her career at John Lewis Partnership UK and she is currently the Deputy Managing Director of HM Ltd, ED of DV Solutions NG and an Advisory Board Member of the Women in Leadership Institute (WLI).

With a wide range of experience across a number of different sectors and having completed tasks for high profile companies, Anuli graduated from the University of Ibadan with a BSc in Psychology and holds a Masters in Human Resource Management from Middlesex University UK.

A believer in continuous professional and personal development, Anuli is a CIPD certified Human Resource Professional as well as a qualified Prince2 Practitioner in Project Management. She also holds certifications for Gender studies from the UN Women Training Centre.

PMP trained, Anuli is currently working towards her certification from PMI Institute.

 

Chidiogo Akunyili: Be Kind to Yourself for Not Being Superwoman

Chidiogo Akunyili is a woman of many trades. She is the Founder of She ROARs – Reimagining Our Africa Rising. This pan-African platform seeks to empower women across Africa to unleash their full potential. 

As a writer, storyteller and movement builder, Chidiogo is impacting the global narrative with her belief in the power of people affecting change. Having lived on 5 continents and being able to speak 7 languages, Chidiogo’s philosophy is founded on the African concept of Ubuntu and celebrating our shared humanity. 

Beyond her work, Chidiogo Akunyili has been awarded multiple awards. These include ‘100 most influential Young Africans’ by Africa Youth Awards and ‘100 most inspiring women in Nigeria’ by the Guardian. She is also a World Economic Forum Global Leadership Fellow. 

In this interview, we learn more about She ROARs and the impact it has been bringing. 


What led you to start She ROARS?

After working with hundreds of women across Africa, I came to the realization that we needed more spaces to support women on their personal and professional journeys. Changing a community begins with enabling women to tap into their full strength and potential.

Inspired by this, we started She ROARS. Through this platform, we support women by equipping them with tools to build bridges to fulfilling their potential. We do this by creating spaces for them to flourish, empower each and impact their communities.

Can you tell us more about the impact She ROARS has had?

To date, She ROARs has reached hundreds of women across Africa and the diaspora. Through events, we’ve created spaces where women have been challenged, empowered to realize their dreams and walk in their own truths.

We see in all our gatherings the great value of stepping away from business as usual and truly connecting with a powerful circle of womanhood.

Women have added that this platform gives them confidence and support from the group as a whole. We see the strength of space to connect with self and each other. Even if you take nothing else away, there is already a great power in knowing that you are not alone

@SheROARsAfrica challenges the notion that empowerment is big and strong. Sometimes it is soft and tender, and raises an awareness of oneself. Click To Tweet

What have you learned since starting this platform?

The greatest lesson I’ve learned is that, if you have an idea that inspires you, just start! What it will grow into is unknown. However, you should trust your curiosity to lead you to greatness.

She ROARs was born out of a Women Advancing Africa Conference where Graca Machel challenged us to empower each other as women. As women shared their deepest wounds, vulnerability, and courage, I felt all that could be when women were given a space to share together.

Though this idea came from an intuition, it soon turned into a business with a name, logo, website, social media presence, launch and finally a team to push things. We then started leveraging women gatherings to offer She ROARs seminars, workshops, events, and partnerships.

What challenges have you faced with She ROARS?

The challenges are real. But the most important thing I’ve learned is to be kind to myself despite not being superwoman. Starting She ROARs alongside a full-time commitment to write a book meant working on two things that needed my full discipline and drive.

Despite spending over 10 years in the corporate world doing strategic consulting, I doubted my potential to deliver without the habitual external deadline. This fear soon morphed into a constant ‘you are not doing enough’ voice in my head. This soon became stressful.

So, I learned to let go and take some time off every now and then. And above all, I needed to remind myself that if I wanted to go the distance, I couldn’t do it all alone. I needed to trust others talents to help me. Finally, I would write down everything I needed to do monthly, weekly and daily. This helped me declutter my tasks and achievements.

Can you tell us more about the book you are writing?

My first book has been such a rewarding project! It started as a simple idea, the story of a mother, Dora Akunyili. My mother is described by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie as “radical because she had integrity in a system that was unfamiliar with integrity…kind and vigorous, and when she spoke, she widened eyes as though to better convey the force of her conviction.”

Her life is a story of strength arising from the ashes of struggles — the deeper her scars, the stauncher was her fight and spirit of justice and truth. I want the reader to take away the power of conviction and the courage needed to follow through.

What were the fears you felt you had to overcome with the projects you are undertaking?

The deep fear of failure. Three years ago in the mountains of Peru, on the back of an extended retreat, I was held by 9 sisters as I shook and cried at the recognition of a truth that was calling to me, to leap.

Ixchel, a most treasured guide who was holding this sacred space of sisterhood shared these words, “You keep getting that same message… what are you afraid of giving up my sister? The fear will always come in, when you see it, walk through it, that you may be free, that you might know what it feels like to be free falling from a cliff.”

Dance has truly helped me overcome my fear. Dance is a space where I can explore the connection between my mind, spirit, and body. To me, it means freedom to live the life I want and be in an active space of creation. Dance is a reminder to let life flow.

What is your biggest regret and achievement?

I do not believe in regrets but rather in lessons. My biggest lesson has been to let things go. You find that so much energy is spent sweating on little things. Therefore, I try to always remember that ‘this too shall pass’. I shouldn’t get lost in the struggle, but find peace in the learning.

My highest achievement is letting go of my illusion of control to follow my deepest calling to flow. This included leaving a successful career to follow an idea to write a book. I took the proverbial leap of faith has led to us sharing this moment together. I have never looked back since.


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WEBINAR WITH ABOSEDE GEORGE-OGAN: THE RISE OF WOMEN IN POLITICS (MAY 30)

For as long as we’ve known, politics has been viewed as ‘a big boys thing’ and not for women. Well, guess what world? It’s time to take a step back because ladies wanna play too!

From leading political organisations to being at the centre of political movements across the continent, women are increasingly taking charge of the political platform.

Admirable examples of #MotherlandMoguls in politics include Bostwana’s 29- year old, Bogolo Joy Kenewendo, who was recently appointed as Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry and Nigeria’s Ms. Rinsola Abiola, President of the APC Young Women Forum (amongst other titles) – the list goes on!

But let’s be honest! Even though there has been a rise in the number of women in legislatures across the continent, more work still needs to be done to integrate women into ‘political governance’.

That being said, ladies get in formation…let’s talk about building a fulfilling political career!!

To learn more, join us on Wednesday, May 30th for a webinar with Abosede George – Ogan, who is the Chief Facilitator of Women In Politics NG, as well as the Director, Strategy, Partnerships and Stakeholder Management at the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund. Abosede will be sharing useful nuggets on what it takes to build a successful career in politics.

Kick start your career in politics with @abosedea on May 30th at 11 AM WAT! Click here for more: http://bit.ly/BoseOgan #WomenInPolitics Click To Tweet

Some of the topics we’ll cover:

  • Why you should be interested in politics
  • The building blocks to pursuing a career in politics
  • Types of jobs available in the field of politics
  • Advice on how to build a successful political career

Webinar Details:

  • Date: Wednesday, May 30th, 2018
  • Time: 11AM Lagos // 12PM Johannesburg // 1PM Nairobi
  • Location: Register below to get access to this opportunity

Watch here:

About Adebose

Abosede George-Ogan is a tri-sector leader with over 14 years’ experience working across the non-profit, private and public sector as a development professional.

She is the Chief Facilitator at Women In Politics NG, an online platform that seeks to engage, encourage, equip and empower women especially young women to get involved and participate in politics in Nigeria. In addition to this, Abosede is currently the Director, Strategy, Partnerships and Stakeholder Management at the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund.

Abosede began her career in development over a decade ago with ActionAid International Nigeria. From here, she moved on to lead Corporate Social Responsibility and Corporate Citizenship for Keystone Bank, FirstBank and Samsung Electronics West Africa respectively.

Likewise, Ms. George-Ogan has a degree in Political Science/Public Administration from Igbinedion University and an MSc in Communication for Innovation and Development from the University of Reading.  

She is also the author of the recently launched book, “Building a Conscious Career: How to build a fulfilling and financially rewarding career”. For more information about the book, you can visit www.consciouscareer.com.ng.

 

Self-care Secrets for Healthy Motherland Moguls

Motherland Moguls can be some of the busiest women in the world. They are mothers, wives, boss ladies, friends and everything else in between. Many times, they often prioritize other people’s needs above their own and forget about their own self-care. 

But why is self-care important for a motherland mogul? 

Self-care is the art of understanding one’s needs and meeting them. This simply means showering yourself with kindness and goodness. With the right amount of self-care, you can grow emotionally, physically and spiritually.  

Awino Omole put together for us some secrets for motherland moguls to maintain a healthy self-care routine. 


Sometimes all you need is to get in touch with your senses to stay in the present moment. Click To Tweet

1. Create goals

Setting achievable goals is a critical part of having a self-care routine. Other people will come with their interests and goals. However, you shouldn’t neglect your goals as this is important towards your growth.

To set your goals, you can break them into smaller portions. Through this, you will eventually live to see your dreams turn into actionable plans.

2. Be your best friend

We can be our own worst enemies if we want. How many times have you judged yourself a lot harsher than others have? When the weight of self-care kicks in; perfectionism seems to be the order of the day.

But you need to learn to be easy on yourself. Being your own cheerleader will help you put things into perspective during those moments of self-doubts. Once you learn to love yourself first, then you can love others better.

3. Laugh at your flaws

In all that you are going through, it is important not to drown in your storm. You should strive to be an individual who embraces their flaws and knows their awesomeness regardless of all the flaws they may have.

We all have those moments we don’t want to share with others. Despite this, it is very important that you learn to accept your flaws and insecurities and learn to live with them.


4. Slow down

Live one day at a time. Create time outside your normal daily routine to love yourself or to just do nothing. If you don’t have much of a social life, find ways to nurture new and meaningful relationships.

Above all, it is also important to debrief yourself on your progress. Sometimes you need to have a board meeting with yourself to see if you are meeting your goals but also to ignite your passions when you feel like you are losing touch.


5. Talk about your fears

We all get a little scared sometimes. But we should not let our fears paralyze our dreams. When it is getting tough, you should find a trustworthy person and explain your fears. Through talking to someone, they may help you sift through your problems and come up with a solution.

Sometimes all you need is to get in touch with your senses to stay in the present moment. To do this you may need to zone out. Walk away from what is normal. It is okay to retreat inwards and not engage at all. It may seem selfish, but it is important to get in touch with your self.


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Elom Ayayee: Photography for me was a fortunate accident

Elom Ayayee never thought photography would be a part of her life. Her career path was in international relations, policy, linguistics, and publishing. But her love for beautiful images in magazines ignited her desire to pursue a career in photography.

She wanted to recreate these looks which seemed limited to only models for the everyday woman who could be a wife, mother, entrepreneur / employee, believer, citizen and role model.

Elom started with no knowledge of photography. She didn’t know how to take photos and had no clients. But with time, constant practice and determination, she opened her photo studio Elom Ayayee Portraiture where she takes magazine-worthy images of women to remember for the rest of their lives.


How did you start your photography career?

Photography was a very fortunate accident and I fall in love with it more and more every day. It’s all about meeting someone for the first time and finally creating a timeless piece of art that speaks to the essence of who they are or who they want to be in the moment it was created.

To me, that is the amazing power of portraiture. Photography for me is the power to exist in time. It’s a way to say “I was here. I lived, I loved, I hurt, I suffered, I rejoiced, I was silent, I was loud. I held this space”.

Why do you focus on women?

I started photographing family and friends and before I knew it I had a client base. My move to photograph women was not just a great business plan. But, it was also a way to highlight these women who are sometimes invisible in the roles they play. Women often get lost in their responsibilities and forget to appreciate themselves.

My initial desire was to give women just one day off. A day to get pampered and remember and document who she is outside of all the hustle.

To get her hair and makeup done and the most beautiful images of herself that would be loved and cherished and appreciated for all time.

What were some of the hurdles you encountered and how did you solve them?

Marketing has been the biggest hurdle. I’m naturally a very private person and 90% of my client base is from referrals. Putting myself out there is still a very uncomfortable experience for me.

That being said, my target market is small and very specific so that tends to minimize the effort I would otherwise have to make in marketing myself. It’s a lazy way of marketing I guess; give great service and let happy clients do the talking for you.

How do you get your photographs to spread your messages?

I don’t create my photographs for the general public. I create images for my clients to hang on their walls in their homes – this is very intimate and private. Images that hopefully their great great great grandchildren will see and talk about.

My images are about time, legacy and emotion. All of my images say different things in the different homes they live in. I can usually tell by spending enough time with a woman who she wants to see when she looks at an image of herself. I pull on every resource within me during a shoot to be able to give her that.

Click To Tweet

How do you improve your photography and get inspired? 

I do this every way that I can. I enjoy constructive criticism from people I look up to in the industry and my clients. I’m always on the internet trying to figure out how to get what I see in my head right.

My clients are all the inspiration I need. I’ve met such incredible people. Every woman has a story, every child has incredible potential. One day what I create for this person will be a timeless treasure to someone else.

Are you working on anything exciting at the moment?

Yes! I’m doing a series for women that I’m very excited about. It’s easy to promise to take the most amazing picture a woman has ever seen of herself when she’s been pampered and dolled up and looks like the jackpot.

Can I take the most beautiful picture of a woman make-up free? This is my challenge to myself and all my clients. So far, it’s been amazing. Women are so deep and they carry so much behind their eyes.

Each of my clients who have trusted me enough to put themselves in this vulnerable place has been won over. It’s literally the most powerful image you could ever take.

What photography gear do you use to keep focused on what you do best?

I started with a Nikon D3300 and I’ve always used natural light. My first studio was robbed and all my gear was stolen, that’s when I switched to Canon. I’m now shooting on a 5DMark iii.

I own a 50mm lens which I shoot 80% of my shots with and a 70-200 for my outdoor portraits. I use Adobe Photoshop for my editing.

What advice would you give young photographers who want to make it in this industry?

I really don’t feel like I’m qualified to speak for the whole industry, but I would say you need solid people skills and know the basic fundamentals of how to run a business. There’s a huge difference between a business and a hustle.

Also, advise often depends on what area of photography you venture in. So, the first thing I would say is, find your niche, and contrary to popular belief, the smaller your niche the better. Too many photographers are doing too many things. You can’t have it all.  Give great service. Master your craft.


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Olivia Matshabane: Slaying a career as a young Mother

When you fall pregnant at a young age, many people still believe you can’t be a good mother or have a good career. When Olivia Matshabane got her son at the age of 21, she knew she had to do her best in order to create the best life for both of them.

At 25 years old, Olivia is one of the youngest black female South Africans to be completing a Ph.D. She started with an undergraduate degree and further pursued a Master’s program in psychology.

Despite not being a high achiever in high school, she was able to graduate with honors for her undergraduate and a distinction for her Master’s.

But how did she manage to perform well under the pressure of adjusting to motherhood? Olivia highlights her journey to success below.


1. Dream

The first step to becoming successful is developing a dream. Think big, carefully and critically. Think about what kind of life you would like to have and what would allow you to get there.

Everybody should be visualizing their future lives and use that vision as a basis for your dream. Dreams are powerful things. The excitement of the possibility of reaching that dream keeps us motivated and encouraged to keep striving for it!

2. Write down your dreams

I believe that writing down your dreams makes them plans. When I was 18, I wrote a 10-year plan that included my education goals, getting a child, being with a stable partner and finally living in New York.

Though some things shifted mildly, I was able to achieve all my goals. Often, I still look at this piece of paper to encourage and promise myself to keep going.

Writing down dreams has worked for me and can work for many young women. Even though you are not comfortable to share your dreams, it is important to write them down. This helps you remember your dreams and not let go of them.

However, you should be open to changes and shifts in your plan. And that’s okay. Just try to make sure that you then update your plan accordingly.

3. Make a plan

Once you know what your dream is, it’s important to decide on the specifics. What do you need in order to get there? Is it training, a mentor, a coach, or a business partner?

Whatever you need, you should develop a plan on how you are going to get it. The better and more detailed your plan is, the better your chances of not getting confused during the process.

To get a detailed plan, you need to research! Make sure you research before settling on anything. For example, if you plan to study something in university, research costs, best institutions, available funding and important dates. All information is key!

4. Get a support system

Getting a support system is important. Though it may not be easy to ask for help, when you are a young mom it is important to establish networks that you can turn to for help when you need it.

My support system allowed me to study late on campus, work on weekends and later travel for work. I had the comfort of having people to take care of my son.

So build that support system! Even if it is a group of young mothers just like yourself who help one another out with babysitting when needed. If there isn’t one around you, initiate it! It will make the process a lot easier.

5. Put in the work

Just because you are a young mother and have a lot on your plate does not mean that you should be lazy. Remember you are working towards, YOUR dream and so you need to put in the hard work!

When you have deadlines, make sure that you set sufficient time aside, in order to meet those deadlines. You shouldn’t give people excuses simply because you are a young mother.

6. Don’t easily accept NO for an answer

When you send in applications for things and know you are qualified, do not easily accept no. Make an effort to find out why. Sometimes there is a glitch in the system or your application was not received or looked at for some reason.

This actually happened to me during my undergraduate application. I knew getting rejected would derail my plans and so I inquired until I found out I was actually accepted.

Also, there may be something you did incorrectly in your application. Adopt the mentality that feedback is critical, as it will always help you better yourself for your next application.

7. Don’t feed into your insecurities

You may feel overwhelmed by the idea of becoming a young mother and still pursuing your dreams. It’s certainly not easy! You may have moments where you doubt your skills, but hang tight and don’t feed into those insecurities.

The thoughts you feed yourself have enormous power, so feed yourself positive thoughts. Always try your best to be in positive and motiving spaces and try to celebrate the little successes.

8. Be your child’s role model 

Think of the kind of person you would like your child to be and then model that person! Remember children learn best from what they see modelled.

If your child sees you working late at night, they can see what it means to be a hard worker. If your child experiences love from you as a parent, they will learn what it means to love.

9. Take time out

Proper rest is important. Firstly, take time out of your work to focus on spending quality time with your child. This could be a few hours or days to focus on your child only.

Secondly, time spent alone is equally important as you need to re-energize, remind yourself of your goals and reflect and plan on your journey.

Thirdly, take time with family members and/or friends. A good laugh with your loved ones will remind you of the beauty of life. Young hard working mothers need to remember to take time to be genuinely present and happy.

10. Don’t listen to people who say you can’t do it!

Most people tend to focus on the hypothetical negative effects of becoming a young mother. But you can have a really positive outcome in your career and in your relationship with your child.

Believe in what you tell yourself. If you tell yourself that you are doomed and will not be successful, then sadly that’s what you may be.

However, if you tell yourself that you will use your experience of becoming a young mother as a source of inspiration for you to draw on to continue pursuing your dreams, then believe that you CAN DO IT!

Nobody said it would be easy, but what I am saying is that you can still pursue your dreams - OP Matshabane Click To Tweet


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