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There is an unnecessary stigma around pole dancing- Flirty Fitness Founder, Queen Nkpubre

Queen Nkpubre is dedicated to nurturing Flirty Fitness- a space where Nigerian women can freely explore their sensuality through pole dancing. “I noticed that women express a certain level of discomfort when they exercise in the same spaces as men and it made them less likely to return to the gym. So I decided to do something about it,” she said. This article covers Queen Nkpubre’s experience running Flirty Fitness and valuable lessons you can learn and apply in your journey through life. What is the drive behind Flirty Fitness? First of all, women are running the world and we need to empower ourselves to run it well by staying healthy. Women also statistically live longer than men and tend to have more health-related issues in old age. So while we are living longer, we are living poorer lives. Women take care of everybody and sometimes it is to our own detriment. We take care of the kids, husbands, extended family members, you know, everyone! There is this famous saying that you can’t take care of anyone properly until you take care of yourself and I strongly agree. Dance is a great way to unwind and take care of ourselves. It is something that we can happily lose ourselves in and be energised by. Another important thing is that our bodies are constantly changing- from puberty to pregnancy to menopause- it is easy for us to lose touch with our sensuality, our confidence and our beauty. So an activity like pole dancing is a good way to keep those core parts of ourselves alive. What is a common misconception people have about pole dancing? People still associate it with stripping. The stigma around pole dancing keeps “respectable” people from trying it out. Even when they do, they do not want their pictures to be taken or shared online and I understand that. Still, there are people that are bold about it because appeals to their adventurous side. What are some lessons we can learn from your experience with Flirty Fitness? Be at the forefront of your brand: Don’t shy away from your brand, if anything, pitch your brand. Have enough confidence in your brand to passionately advocate for it in spaces you think it should be in. Be ready to do the backend and frontend work. Don’t hide. Be sure about your why: Before you go into anything, you should know why you want it. Do not start something just because it is trendy or it seems like it will gain popularity. You need to be very sure because there are things that will discourage you. If you are sure of your “why” even when those challenges come, they won’t make you give up easily. Ask for feedback: It is so easy to be so caught up in the process of what you are doing. When this happens you may not easily see some things that someone removed from the process may notice. We all have blind spots no matter how smart we may be. For amazing exercise-related content and valuable health tips, visit the Flirty Fitness Nigeria website and follow on Instagram.

Be Consistent About Your Growth- Kutama Peanut Founder, Mary Asanga

Mary Asanga juggles being a full-time student of biochemistry at the University of Uyo and running a business with grace and grit. “I started my business to make ends meet but along the line, I wanted to make my business distinct. I wanted to serve a purpose,” she says. Once Mary was set on what she wanted to do, she decided to be intentional- “When I started, I wasn’t business savvy. I didn’t know the basics but I wanted to learn. There was this drive to be better and that drive gave me the desire to apply for many opportunities.” In this piece, Mary shares her business story and valuable insights from her experience as a business owner and full-time student.  Why did you choose to sell peanuts? I got a Nature Valley snack bar as a gift from a friend and it was really nice. So I went to the supermarket to find something similar that is locally produced and there was hardly any. It was just imported peanut snacks or regular peanuts. That inspired me to do something. So, I began researching peanut snacks and how they can be used to support the diet plans of diabetic people. I noticed that this particular group of consumers are often ignored by the food and beverage industry. What does Kutama mean? Kutama means, “when you see, you will love. How do you juggle being a full-time student and a business owner? When I started, I ensured to move productions to weekends, I would source for raw materials during the weekdays after lectures. This way production was less tedious. On weekends, my team and I would block off a time to produce and then on Mondays, we distribute to schools, staff quarters, student hostels, stalls and some locations in Lagos. We managed this model up until 2019. Once my course load reduced and I had more time, we increased production by 50% and our customer base also grew. What are some lessons you have learned from running a business? Fight your fear- One of the problems I had when I started my business was fear. There was this fear that, “Oh, it is just peanut snacks. What is so special about peanuts that other people cannot do?”  At some point though, I realised that I had to fight the fear. There are still times when I doubt myself and when I fall into that trap, I look at where I am compared to when I started and it gives me hope. Be consistent about your growth- Never stop looking for opportunities that will further your growth. Regardless of what your business is, so far, if you are providing a solution that people need, you should not hold back from seeking avenues to be better. There are so many lessons to learn from experienced business owners who have gone before you. They can give you insights so that you don’t step on the same land mines that they did. It also gives you an opportunity to network. When you are hungry for personal growth, you get to learn more, broaden your horizon and realise that your business has the ability to create more impact than you ever imagined. Do your research- Study your customer. It is very important to research your potential customer. Don’t assume that you know what they want. Research on how you can serve them better with your product and your business practices. Follow Mary Asanga to keep up with her journey and you can buy delicious peanut snacks from the unstoppable Kutama brand via Instagram or Twitter.