Juanita Abrahams: Set yourself apart & stay true to yourself

juanita abrahams

Blogging has taken the world by storm, whether it’s done as a hobby or as a job, some are creating careers out of it! When fashion bloggers first hit our screens on E! Entertainment, it gave some of us a little insight  into what fashion bloggers actually do. We now know a bit of how they work with various clients and create an income through doing something they love.

So, still on my quest to explore various fashion-related careers, I got chatting with Juanita Abrahams, the Creative Director of Juan Leo. Juanita is a BCom Accounting student, who is currently completing her under grad, in pursuit of the esteemed CA (SA) designation. She is also a SAICA articled clerk and trainee accountant.


Please tell us a little more about yourself

I am also a SAICA articled clerk and trainee accountant, currently completing my third year of articles in pursuit of the esteemed CA (SA) designation.

From an early age, my hobbies included; design, art, photography and dance —and I dabbled in all of these for many years and often still do.

So let’s fast-forward to 2016, where that interest in design, art and photography has fully formed into what we know as Juan Leo Lifestyle, your blog, please tell us a little more about it

I’ve always loved fashion and design, and became quite involved in creative arts from an early age so the next befitting step after being exposed to so many opportunities within the industry and similar industries was to start a blog, which looked much easier at first.

We started out as “Faith, Fashion & Living Fabulously” which encompassed everything I believed in and loved. But my real goal was to build a different type of fashion community —one which isn’t focused solely on looking or feeling good, but one that focuses on others as well.

And naturally, the brand progressed and we underwent some rebranding of sorts and landed up as Juan Leo Lifestyle. It hasn’t lost the meaning or purpose of the brand —focusing on faith and fashion with a greater purpose. It basically refers to not competing, but offering something more to the world and distinguishing ourselves from everyone else.

I must say, that’s rather unique, combining fashion and faith, so how do you marry the two?

Through networking and building relationships with businesses, companies and local entrepreneurs. It’s about ensuring the cycle of giving back never stops.

Although, we do focus on fashion and lifestyle aspects, we retain being a platform for a purpose and our current focus is on being a support to local designers, entrepreneurs and start-up businesses, and not just in Cape Town.

We’ve identified gaps in the market and I think it’s quite obvious that many individuals have the dream and the talent, but lack knowledge in terms of social media and marketing themselves and that’s why they struggle or they become stagnant in the growth of their business. And that’s where we come in.

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I think that’s quite important, considering I’ve come across many companies that position themselves as ‘being there for the small businesses’ but when it comes to working with them, they shy away. How do you help small business?

We’ve also recently started Pedro by Juan Leo —a menswear fashion and styling division aimed at the modern man.

I have wanted to branch out for a while and we’ve finally found the perfect team for this. This allows us to reach even more start-up companies and brands, and also impact a greater audience.

So on one end, you’re driving traffic to smaller brands and business, how does the other end work? How does a blogger create income through blogging?

I would say I wouldn’t know because this isn’t our first priority but bloggers do charge per post, or per Instagram photograph posted and this is dependent on your followings. This is by means of sponsored posts primarily.

Many bloggers with a huge influence can be seen being hired for commercials/advertising, campaigns with big retailers and the likes —there’s opportunity everywhere if done right.

I’m sure bloggers get paid for every little thing under the sun that you haven’t even imagined yet —from public appearances to promoting garments at an event and online and everywhere in between and I’m not too sure how I feel about it. I believe you should stand by your brand and quality requires payment.

Juan Leo’s main income would be from;

  • Brand photography
  • Content creation
  • Fashion photography for other bloggers (and it’s my favourite! Passion drives everything)

Would you say that blogging is a viable career choice?

Career? Perhaps. Viable —I’m not sure.

Blogging itself can become a full-time job if you’re prepared to make a few huge sacrifices in the beginning and are also prepared to stand your ground when it comes to payment. Your following and content quality play a huge role in securing work —real work.

I’ve watched many bloggers or creatives evolve and boom straight to the top without realizing it. Once you reach a certain point, managing a full time job and a blog is quite time-consuming and if blogging is your passion, it will eventually pay the bills while you’re having fun and doing what you love.

Would I do it? Yes and no. ‘Yes’, because I love it, and ‘no’, because there’s more to blogging than just looking good and showing off a lifestyle. I’ll blog and do everything else that isn’t shown online —that makes me happy.

Bloggers move through ranks in my opinion (and if no one has noticed). It starts off as a blogger, and evolves into everything from a digital or fashion influencer to a brand ambassador, social media marketers and eventually lands positions on radio or TV.

It’s amazing how the ripple effect just takes over.

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With such opportunities that can come from being a blogger, I can imagine that there would be an influx of new bloggers —and with so many, there would surely be some common traits and similarities amoung them. What would you say is popular or trending among blogs today?

I’ll be frank —I don’t like following trends and I rarely keep updated with them.

I’m more about the timeless things and if I so happen to purchase something that’s “trending” —cool, if not, oh well. Blogs have become such a popular thing in their own right that you truly have to differentiate yourself from the crowd while staying true to who you are and what your brand is about.

Everyone is entirely crazy about beauty, contouring (which definitely isn’t one of my things), the same clothes and the same shoe brands and styling them. It’s enjoyable content, but very few have things that stand out.

Of course we’re also all updated with the latest press releases, but I think more people should make it their own. Maybe we should ask “what’s not trending among blogs today” and we will find a better answer.

Well said, I also like the idea of being different and doing standing out, which in the long run, attracts your niche audience and develops your brand’s identity. So with that said, how would you say that bloggers can set themselves apart?

To set yourself apart your brand should;

  • Stay true to who you are and make sure people can relate to your content. I don’t easily share personal moments with friends and family, just because it’s my special time but showing a piece of that side at times makes you appear more “human”, approachable and influences the way other brands view your influencing power.
  • Have a goal, a vision and an aim. You can’t take on every job that comes your way, or work with every brand. Only do what works for you and represents who you are and what you want to portray. It’s not always easy to say no, but sometimes we have to. My team reminds me of this from time to time because when I see opportunity I jump head first.
  • Also, offer something no one else is offering, or offer it in a specific way, for example, don’t just do make up and beauty —do it in a funny way, create your own trends, teach something new that you created instead of copying the trends out there, create your own unique statement garments.
  • Work with brands that people haven’t heard of, and build them up. Someone will notice, somewhere.
  • Think about what sets you apart as an individual and do that. That’s where your career begins.

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Where do you see your blog in the next 1-2 years?

Our short term goals —grow our social media and take it to new heights while staying true to our vision. This would not only drive the opportunities for our team/blog but also allow us to expand to help more people.

My big dream is to own a media house of sorts or a boutique —a unique one known for fashion, film, photography, media, writing and design. Everything I love all rolled into one.

We’re also focusing on expanding Pedro by Juan Leo on a greater scale and will soon start designing our own key pieces. Regardless of what we do, I hope that the next two years sees us helping more people than we ever imagined, and being lifestyle changers for the world.

We’ve got quite a few business ideas in the mix, and although I’m dying to share it, let the audience watch this space.


Other South African blogs you can check out, which happen to be some of Juanita’s favourites include;

  1. Fashion Breed by Aqeelah Harron-Ally
  2. Birdline Blog by Nadia Jaftha (my absolute fav!)
  3. Baked the Blog by Aisha Baker
  4. Just Jade Blog by Jade Robertson 
  5. Qaanita Orrie

They all have something different to offer audiences, and although they appear similar they inspire me for different things.

Laura Eboa Songue: Social media made us

Laura Eboa Songue she leads africa

Sometimes, the most compelling reason for starting a media company is also the most simple: it’s a vision you just can’t give up. Since its launch in 2007, FASHIZBLACK has gone from just being a blog to an online community for Francophone Afropolitans. That’s rarely ever easy to pull off, but Laura Eboa Songue, the company’s co-founder did it by utilizing social media to its fullest potential.

If you’ve ever thought about starting your own media company, there’s lessons from looking at what’s driving FASHIZBLACK, the journey so far, and the plans for the future.


How did FASHIZBLACK come about?

Originally, we created our media company out of a need for more representation. The idea started off in late 2007 with a blog. Street-style was starting to get momentum in Paris and out of all the cool blogs, there was nothing representing black people.

That’s how the blog was launched. We went on to launch an official website in September 2008, a print magazine in 2012 and build a solid community online.

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How have you used social media to grow your audience?

Social media made us, to be honest. It helped us understand our readership on a daily basis, connect with them, and have consistent feedback. We truly can say that we know our audience.

Also, it helped us financially, since we raised $45,000 via Kickstarter during the summer 2011. Twitter and Facebook were the main reason for the campaign’s success.

It’s really our foundation and we are thankful for our followers, they are our accountability partners.

What is your vision for African fashion?

The industry is still in its infancy, so the posibilities are endless. The structural challenges are amazing opportunities to grow and build an industry that fits our values and identities.

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Do you mind sharing with us the multiple projects you work on?

Sure. Right now we are re-launching our premium print magazine so we are finalizing our contents production. My daily tasks can go from brainstorming about creative input like editorials and interviews, to corrections. I also work on partnerships, from influencers to affiliates and advertisers.

On a personal level, I work with states, institutions & key-players in the fashion industry in France and Africa, via the AFRICAFRANCE foundation, to continue our actions structuring the industry. From market studies to training solutions, lobbying and trade shows, we try to push projects that will serve as strong basis for a more consistent industry.

I also do speaking engagements here and there, when time allows it. I think it’s important to share my experience, not only to further our brand but to help out where I can.

What trends can we expect to see in African fashion in the next three years?

It’s definitely about growth and saturation. As governments and institutions (very) slowly realize how vital our cultures and know-how are core to our development as economies, the fashion industry will be provided will more efficient tools.

I’m looking forward to the birth of more African brands, both commercial and creatively successful locally and/or abroad.

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How have you managed your relationship with your co-founder(s)?

That’s an awesome question. First of all, I think I am blessed with incredibly talented, but most importantly, amazing human beings as my partners.

Before being highly skilled, they have great (work) ethics, and strong values. So, it’s not hard to solve any conflict that could arise. We are pretty much always willing to learn and try not to get stuck in our own ways.

Now, I’m not saying that everything is always perfect, but I can say that we are always trying our best. And we have the company’s best interest at heart, always.

What advice would you give young African women looking to starting a career in the media?

Just do it. We need so much more voices to speak volume for us, and to us.
Starting a media is a very difficult task because it’s an extremely complex product to build and to sell, but if it’s your vision, you just can’t give up.

One thing I wish I took more seriously, is getting a mentor. It would have saved me so much hassle and opened so many doors. We had nobody to show us the way, and made all the possible mistakes in the book. But hey, at least I can truly say now that I am a master at what I do and I know many different areas of business, media, fashion and self-development.

Also, interning and training is key. Once again, I worked in luxury and fashion but we are 100% self-taught when it comes to media. So, if you can learn on someone else’s dime, please, do!

Last but not least, be extra persistent, resilient, and stick to your vision no matter what. I believe in the law of attraction, so your vision is your reality. It’s going to happen for you!


Want to see women you know featured on SLA? Tell us what amazing things women are doing in your communities here.

Nontobeko Tshabalala: Working towards being a woman worth watching

Nontobeko Tshabalala

Young people hold the answers to achieving sustainable development in Africa. These wise words come from Nontobeko Tshabalala. Nontobeko is from Swaziland, she is a journalist, blogger and social media extrovert. She believes that good writing enhances the experience of life and is working towards fulfilling that. Nontobeko is passionate about the youth and their involvement in making worthwhile contributions to the discourse around issues such as gender disparity, Afrocentricity. Nontobeko talked with our SLA contributor, Itumeleng Mphure on becoming a woman worth watching.


How did you get into journalism?

For the longest time, I wanted to be a lawyer but when I got to grade 12 I didn’t think that I would be happy as a lawyer in 30 years’ time. Then I had a conversation with my father and he told me that there can only be satisfaction in a salary if there is job satisfaction.

So I applied for journalism at the Durban University of Technology because I love reading and writing. I went to a Technikon where they teach practical skills. What lead me into journalism is actually the reason why I wanted to be a lawyer for the longest time. It is because I can make strong arguments and find evidence to back it up.

Which publications have you written?

Before I moved to Ethiopia I was working at the Swazi Times as features editor and I am still a weekly columnist for Swazi News. I have also worked at the Sunday Tribune (Durban) and Soul Magazine (South Africa).

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What’s the best you have written so far?

Every time I write an article I write it as though it’s the best I will ever write. When Lupita Nyongo had just won an Oscar and received a lot of publicity I wrote a piece about how it’s important to see dark girls in the limelight so that girls who look like that know that it’s okay to be dark. I wrote this article because there was a big debate over Lupita’s dark skin.

Makila James who is the US Ambassador to Swaziland took that article back home for her family to read because she felt that it resonated with every black person. It is time for Africans to accept their different tones of their skin colour.

What are you most passionate about?

I want to lend my voice to the continued liberation of women. I don’t have a definite plan of where exactly I see myself in the future but I know that my passion will lead me to a place where I can advocate for women.

What’s currently on your mind?

Furthering my studies. My professional experiences surpass my academic qualifications and that makes me feel uncomfortable. Right now I am at the African Union (AU) and the tables I am sitting at require me to further my studies.

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What lead you to joining the AU?

I have the constant desire to be better and improve myself so when the call for the African Union Youth Volunteer Programme came, I applied and now I am serving as the Special Assistant to the Chairperson of the African Union Commission. I was chosen as one of the Media Institute of Southern Africa’s (MISA) Women to Watch in 2014 but I am constantly working towards being a woman worth watching.

What’s your fondest beach side memory?

It was in Mozambique. I went to apply for a visa to France and I had lunch by the sea side. It was a very stressful day but I eventually got my visa. I had lunch at the seaside and also took a walk. It was so calming and that’s what I remember most about it.


Want to see women you know featured on SLA? Tell us what amazing things women are doing in your communities here.

 

Lornah Achieng: What it means to be a Christian fashion blogger

The faith industry is large and booming but it’s not limited to the pulpit. We have Christian books, a growing Christian movie industry and also Christian bloggers. Born and raised in Kenya, Lornah Achieng is a faith, fashion and lifestyle blogger. She says she started the platform to share life experiences and discoveries from the Bible -which she considers the core of her foundation.

Through her blog, Lornah aims to inspire people to learn more about God, modest fashion, and inner beauty. SLA contributor Zipporah caught up with Lornah to uncover the inner workings of a faith blogger as well as other projects Lornah is involved in.


Why the Cherries Vineyard blog? What inspired you to start?

Cherries Vineyard was inspired from the book of John 15:1-8 which describes Jesus as the true vine. We are the branches and God is the vine-dresser. Actually the name came out when I was contemplating which blog title to use, and my mind landed on “Cherries Vineyard”.

At first, I thought it was a captivating sweet name but through the years I’ve come to understand that it is a spiritual process. It was after that realization that I got the scripture, it is really amazing how God orchestrates things .

When did your interest in fashion and blogging start?

Honestly growing up, I was never keen on details and fashion per se. My sister is the one who made me realize the passion within. She used to correct me on the combination of clothes I wore and she still does once in a while. Through her, I was able to discover my love for fashion.

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What have been your greatest achievements?

I can say being able to come out as a Christian blogger! Because I realized my passion is writing and being able to share the truth on my blog is quite daunting! You know people can at times be scared to speak the truth for fear of being rejected.

Also through blogging, I have been able to grow spiritually. Like I said before, to me blogging is a spiritual process where I am able to learn more about being authentic. I can’t take people from where I have not been, I have to first be that which I encourage my readers to be. This has pushed me to mature and grow. To me that is an achievement.

Tell us more about your interest in digital marketing

I studied a Bachelor of Business and Information for my undergraduate and that is where my interest in marketing was cultivated. Currently, I do marketing and work with different brands offering them digital marketing strategies.

 

Lornah 3What defines modest clothing to you?

Personally, modest clothing is more than just a mere dress code. It not being religious or old-fashioned, rather, it is a way of expressing true love towards God by aligning ourselves to His standards –holiness.

When we get to understand that our beauty doesn’t come from outward adornment of fine clothes but inner disposition of our heart, then dressing modestly becomes a matter of our relationship with God. With God there is purity and a renewed mind, this is automatically reflected in how we dress.

Describe your style

Simple, modest, elegant and classy if that is not mouthful.

Who are your favorite icons that embody modesty?

I’ll say the women of the past. First look at Peter 3:5 then, anyone whose modesty comes from within. Nash Amber of Set Apart style is also one among many inspiring bloggers who are ambassadors of true modesty.

Do you have any future plans?

My future plan is to impact lives with values and spread the truth about modesty. I want people to know that true modesty starts with the heart first before the clothing!


Want to see women you know featured on SLA? Tell us what amazing things women are doing in your communities here.

 

DiElleCi: Working with sisters can be light on tough love

Diasy, Luisa and Cleo are Angolan sisters who are leaving their imprint on the blogosphere not just in English but Portuguese too. Their blog DiElleCi, a mash of their names, is becoming the go-to for advice on beauty, fashion and health. These sisters are all students, Cleo recently graduated with a degree in engineering, but find the time to give readers a peak into their lives. SLA reached out to them curious to know more. We learned that working with sisters is great but can be light on the tough love and reduces the need to micromanage. DiElleCi share more about running a bilingual blog, including what’s in their purses below.


When did you start your blog? What lead you to it?

We started our blog on February 10th, 2016 because we have always had a creative side. We also had the desire to do a project together. However, we noticed that as university students, the academic side of our lives was taking over the creative side that we very much exercised when we were younger. For that reason, we decided to create an outlet where we could share another side of us and our additional interests.

Also we, as young African women, felt like we weren’t represented in social media, especially in the Portuguese speaking market.

Have you faced any difficulties blogging in both Portuguese and English? Which of your audiences is bigger?

The only difficulty we’ve had with running the blog in two languages has been ensuring that our voice remains the same both in English and in Portuguese, regardless of translation. So, it takes some time when translating posts since we need to add expressions for each language. But we are glad we have done so, since our biggest audience is the Portuguese one.
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Have you taken any special steps to grow your audience?

Social media has been a great catalyst to the growth of our audience. Firstly, Facebook is great since almost everyone has an account, so we make sure to keep our Facebook page current and engaging.

In addition, Instagram has been equally great since it has so many pages that cater to girls that share similar interests to ours. Because of that, we have been featured on some high quality pages and have seen more growth and exposure from them.

Most importantly, we have made it a priority to remain consistent in both the frequency of posts and in the quality of content.

How can a young African woman reading this start monetizing her blog?

Blogs can be monetized in many ways. As a starting point for us, we decided to monetize our blog through affiliate links. However, we have noticed that it’s not the most sustainable option. We’re currently working on developing different ways to get a more sustainable return without compromising the overall brand.

What is it like working together as sisters? Is there any conflict?

Working with sisters is great because we share the same values and know each other very well so when conflicts arise, there are no issues in addressing certain situations.

However, since we know each other so well and care about each other, sometimes it is hard to give much needed “tough love”. Above it all, the biggest benefit since we know each others weaknesses and strengths is that there is no need to micromanage, which makes task distribution easier.
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How do you find time to update your blog regularly as students?

Being students has taught us about discipline and multi-tasking, so we have applied those attributes to our blogging routine.

In addition, like we mentioned before, we separate our tasks according to our strengths and weaknesses. We have seen it has helps us save time and energy when tasks are well divided and only the best person for the job is in charge of a specific task.

ELLEWhat’s the process of blogging like for you? How do you come up with content ideas?

The process of blogging for us is very interactive. We have been very lucky because our audience has been very good at telling us what they like and what they want to see. Even more, we get inspired by our everyday routines and experiences and share what we think would be helpful or interesting. Most importantly, we gain inspiration by seeing ourselves as the audience and consistently asking ourselves what we would like to see.

Can you share what’s in your purses right now?

Wallet, student and Oyster card (for public transport in London), our blog planner, snacks, chapstick, a book we are currently reading, iPhone, portable charger and of course keys.

What is the last song you played on your iTunes/iPod?

We were just listening to the new Rihanna song ” Sledgehammer”.


If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here

Why Motherland Moguls seriously need to start blogging

WOCinTech Chat blogging

With the growth of social media and in Africa, everyone, even businesses are blogging. Yet, there’s an ongoing debate on whether a blog is really necessary for business especially among those who feel they don’t have the time or money to start blogging and maintain it. Trust me, there are many legit reasons to blog. Blogging is really cool once you look past the work that goes into it. Even when you have little time, it’s possible to make it work. Here’s why.

Control your content

As a business, you want to have direct influence over how consumers perceive your brand. Blogs allow you to determine what people know and think about you and your hustle. They also allow for interactive conversation when customers leave comments and receive your responses directly. Being constantly aware of consumer’s perceptions allows you to develop content that speaks to their needs. This way, you always have the opportunity for customization and continued relevance in your market.

Cool terms with the Web

Blogs improve your search engine optimization (SEO). This is a fancy term for visibility. Search engines are always looking for dope content and you raise your chances of being noticed by potential customers when you use keywords related to your business on your blog. This ultimately leads to more web traffic and leads for your business. There are many free options like WordPress and Blogger which allow you to have a blog before you choose host it on your own business website. This means you can start blogging without breaking the bank whilst achieving your business goals.

Connect with your customer

We can’t deny that customer is king and queen. According to a survey conducted by Hubspot 60% of businesses who blog attain more customers. Blogging for your business really gives the impression that you care about your customer and want to be transparent about what you do . Blogging frequently allows the customer to be aware of the boss moves you are making, they get to see you as a person. Conventional marketing outlets do not allow you to have the personal touch that blogging does. People get to glimpse at the heart of the business, see what it stands for and who the business is. In the end, we all relate to that more than just the numbers. A blog allows you to share timely, relevant information about your services and products which will always please clientele. With Africa being more and more connected a blog could allow you to reach a whole new market within the continent thus increasing your outreach.

Creating value

Do you have trouble coming up with content for social media, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and others? Well, blogging is a way of designing content and giving your social media strategy an upgrade. Now you can share articles from your blog across your social networks. Not matter the size of your business, you can make a meaningful contribution to your industry. Whether you are a photographer sharing tips on taking great pictures or a multinational business, with a blog you create an opportunity to be a thought leader in your area of expertise. This way you’re showing your clients just #whorunstheworld.

And it doesn’t end there, through your blog you also express your views related to changes in your area of business. This speaks to not only your consumers but your competitors as well, making you credible and worth seeking advice from as an expert. What’s more, you can move from just writing on your blog to being noticed by other established bloggers. From there you can seize the opportunity to guest blog which  will give you even more of an edge as a brand. It’s also a great way to collaborate with like-minded individuals in your industry.

Past the business and profits, you offer helpful advice which is always valued by anyone who visits your site so people can associate you with the awesomeness you are.

So, whether a small business or not, you have a cost effective medium to offer greater value to existing customers and finding new ones, creating a niche for your brand, an affordable method for your advertising and improved writing skills, and that’s is definitely a worthwhile investment.

Lungiswa Moore: Women of colour need a positive community

lungiswa moore mygirlsquad community
Community, sisterhood, friendship, marriage…these are all important topics for women of colour. Zimbabwe-born, US based Lungiswa Moore started her lifestlye and community website #mygirlsquad to foster positive connections online. Sisterhood is important and so is family and community but there are right ways to doing business with people you care about. Lungiswa share her tips on that and more.

How did #mygirlsquad come about?
#mygirlsquad is inspired by women of colour. We are strong, diverse and beautiful but this isn’t shown enough in the media and in our daily lives. Women of colour are grossly underrepresented. I wanted to create a platform to show the positive in women of colour, not just as individuals but as a collective and a community.

There’s not enough being told about the growing positive trend of amazing women of colour breaking boundaries and collaborating on great things to uplift their community. We’re happy, loving and ambitious – that should be the narrative.

What challenges have you encountered in the past with your business?

The biggest trial for me was actually having faith in myself. Tackling self-doubt and steering with faith alone is a very lonely road. There have been many times I’ve been awakened from sleep by my fear of failure. It has made me procrastinate on deadlines and even made me lose opportunities because I felt that I wasn’t the person for it.

As an entrepreneur, I feel that even if you’re running a one-man show, many things can go wrong in one day. However, if you allow your self-doubt and fears to overpower your faith and ambition to get through the day, you have already sunk your ship. Fear is inevitable. It’s a natural reaction when you’re faced with something unknown. Just don’t let it turn into doubt. When I start to get doubtful I always surround myself with affirmations. If you don’t have anyone in your life who can give you affirmations, you have to create them yourself. You need constant reassurance that you can do what you set yourself up to do.

As someone who has worked with friends, is there a right and wrong way to it?
From my experience there is. I’ve worked with many friends before and even with my husband. You have to first understand what your friend’s strengths and weaknesses are. It’s all fun and great when brainstorming ideas get flowing and there’s excitement about launching something together. But knowing your friend as a friend, and knowing your friend in business is different.

Your friend may have your back when it comes to personal issues, but when you start dealing with money, things become different. So understanding their strengths and weaknesses puts you both in a better position to work cohesively in things that best fit each other. Some tips from me

  • Always have a contract – this protects you both in case things go south.
  • Communicate. A lot of misunderstandings can lead to bigger issues if they are unresolved. Conflict can carry into your friendship and things can go very sour very quickly if not resolved.
  • Most importantly try to make time for your friendship. Sometimes, you become engrossed in the business side that the friendship gets lost. Remembering that you were friends before getting into business will go a long way.

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You mentioned working with your husband, how can young African women balance marriage with working with their partners?
As an African woman, I found this a challenge when I started. I, along with many other women, have been raised to always put your husband first in your marriage. While that works within a marriage, it doesn’t always work that way in business. You sometimes have to go with your gut or put your husband last sometimes. In any business relationship, there will always be a difference in opinion one time or another, and when that happens – you have to deal with that pragmatically.

I’m a passionate individual and I tend to have strong opinions. In instances where my husband would disagree with me, I would not only argue my point in a meeting but I’d find myself randomly arguing the same point while we’re watching our favorite show. That’s crazy! Knowing when to turn that business switch off is important, especially when working with your spouse. In a 9 to 5 it’s easy to come home after a hard day and vent to your spouse about your annoying co-worker or boss, but when you work together and the annoying co-worker is your spouse – it gets tricky. So, leaving business at the office and keeping the marriage at home is the best way to balance it.

Why is sisterhood important?
I’ve always believed in the power of numbers. No man is an island and you never succeed alone. As a woman of colour – why would you want to be alone, when you can be so much more as a collective? Collaborating with like-minded individuals, who share the same social and economical issues as you, in order to achieve something should be something sought after. We have a long way to go as women of colour – gender inequality, domestic violence, social and economic issues stunt our growth, yet we are the fastest growing demographic in several industries that include business and education. Imagine if we pulled all our resources together?


If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here

Advice from Vanessa De Luca, Editor-in-Chief, ESSENCE magazine on building a career in journalism

The profession of journalism has evolved over time, greatly propelled by social media platforms. From print to digital, the various mediums in which information is now presented to the world can be a little overwhelming for a novice who wants to make their mark within the industry.

At She Hive NYC 2016 Vanessa De Luca, Editor-in-Chief of ESSENCE Magazine, shared with us some of the important guidelines needed to build a career in journalism.

Here are some of the gems of information Vanessa shared.

Keep it short

In the age of technology many people have a very short attention span. You have to be masterful at telling a great story within a short time frame. Create content that shows your target audience that you understand them.

Be as direct in your message as you can possibly be. Keeping your content simple and authentic allows your target audience to connect with it.

Be Adaptable

Be very comfortable with adapting to constant change. See what type of content your target audience is engaged around and give them that. Take the time to learn what the “new thing” is and what will set you apart from everyone else.

You may go into work spaces where others who have been in the industry much longer than yourself may not understand how to use the newest technological platform that others are using to connect with core audiences.

By keeping on top of these various platforms, and showing them how it’s done, you can make yourself more of an asset to your team.

Know Your Audience

Use data metrics to measure your engagement, but do not solely rely on it. Let your connection to your audience guide you in making intuitive decisions.  Use data as a guide but also ask your audience what they would like to see.

Engage on Social Media

If you are looking  for a job as a social media manager but your personal social media page has only 25 followers, employers are not likely to take you very seriously.

If you are not engaged on your own personal social media platforms, how can someone trust that you will be engaging on theirs? When branding your business you can’t hide in the background. You must have a presence, know what you stand for and what you don’t.

You must humanize your brand; people want to know who you are and they want to connect with the pieces of you that resonate with them. You have to tell a story; people want to know how what you do changes the lives of the people that you serve. Telling the story of how you built your business for example, this allows others to be inspired by your journey.

6 steps to building the confidence you need to bring your blog to the masses

Abiola Babarinde

Have you ever wanted to share something with the world, but you’ve hesitated? You ask yourself, ”can I really do this? Will people like what I produce?”

I can relate.

Putting yourself out there is daunting – the Internet can be a scary place. If anyone had told me a year ago that I’d be running my own website, www.abiola.me and sharing my thoughts on life and faith, I would have laughed in their face. Me? Faith? My experiences? It didn’t sound very glamorous and we all know it can be a touchy subject. After months of umm’ing and ahh’ing, I decided to take the plunge.

Since then, I’ve found that the world of writing isn’t so big and scary after all. In fact, there’s a lot of good that can come from joining the conversation. Now I’m going to share 6 steps to help you to launch your blog with all the Naomi Campbell-level confidence you can muster.

Step 1: Believe in your product and it’s purpose

First of all, your product (or in the blogger’s case, content) should be something you’re passionate about and you think other people will enjoy. I didn’t start Abiola.me just cause I ‘wanted to have a blog’, that’s not enough to sustain you when the novelty wears off. From chatting to friends and strangers alike, I could sense that we were all looking for something ‘more’ in our lives, that missing piece.

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Personally, I had found something that had a huge impact on me, and I had a strong feeling that other people might find it useful too. In true Olivia Pope style, I decided to trust my gut. A strong belief in your product will eventually outweigh your self-doubt or fear of what people might say.

Step 2: Your online voice is unique, believe in it, develop it

Next, think about your tone of voice. This is one of the most important things as it helps people to buy into and believe in what you’re offering. I decided that I wanted my blog to be approachable and relatable, kind of like speaking to a wise, trusted friend. Each time I publish a blog post, I continue to ask myself, do I sound like that friend? Asking yourself these questions regularly will help bring your content to life.

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But I can’t write as well as some of the other people out there… I hear you say. Listen, no one becomes good at something without practice – don’t ever let that put you off. We all have to start somewhere, as long as you’ve got your spelling and grammar down, you’re good to go. If you need help, send a draft post to a friend for feedback – that’s what I did at the start and it worked like a dream. The key is to share it with people who are supportive but also comfortable with giving constructive criticism.

Remember that this entire experience is a learning opportunity, and waiting until you’re ‘perfect’ is unrealistic (even the Chimamanda Adichie’s of this world have still got stuff to work on! We all do).

Step 3: Take the plunge, spread the word

The next thing to do is to tell people! It’s really that simple. When I first started my blog, I told no one except 4 or 5 close friends. Even worse, when I added new posts I didn’t tell anyone at all because I was too shy. This is where belief in your product and yourself becomes super helpful: I knew what I was creating was useful and I was putting in too much effort for it not to be shared. So I decided to finally put on my big girl pants and spread the word, what was the worst that could happen?

Sharing wasn’t easy – the very first day I prepared my social media promo posts, I was nervous. I knew deep down that I would never feel 100% ready, I’d always find another excuse, so I just did it. Sometimes, you’ve just got to close your eyes and go for it. It’s like jumping into a pool, you’re hesitant at first but the adrenaline pushes you to do it anyway, and once you’re in you realise that it’s actually pretty fun! It also gets easier the second time, then the third time, and suddenly you’re 6 months down the line telling everyone about it.

The best thing about sharing is that it’s infectious. If people like your product they will share it their friends without you even asking. I have had colleagues, old university mates and acquaintances tell me how much they enjoy reading my work. But it’s up to you to get the wheels turning; you are your first and biggest cheerleader, so never be afraid to lead the pack.

Step 4: Be sponge, soak it all up

Congrats, you’ve made it to Step 4 in one piece – not so bad is it?

Next, absorb lessons from everyone (and everything) around you; articles, blogs, other people, celebrities – whatever. Inspiration comes from the most random places. So many things inspire the way I write, the images I use or my future plans. Also, never underestimate the power of your own story, even though learning from your peers and the gawds is important, don’t forget to get busy living.

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Be open to discussion, collaboration and feedback – there’s nothing like bouncing ideas around with people you respect, whether that’s friends, family, mentors, your readers or your peers in the writing game. What you choose to do with the feedback is totally your choice, but always be open to listening.

Step 5: Your non-writing experience is relevant too

Ever had a job or been in school, university or college? These experiences have helped you to develop the prioritisation and organisational skills you need to keep your blog alive. Developing content takes commitment, dedication and sometimes saying no to brunch (#tears) or staying awake for an extra hour.

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Being able to keep yourself accountable and balance all your responsibilities will be the difference between a one-hit-wonder and something more substantial. Luckily for us, we live in a world of automation, so you can use tools like Buffer, HootSuite and Latergramme to help you get organised. So while you’re sleepin’ you’re also tweetin’ – you overachiever, you.

Step 6: Be patient, be authentic and expect the best

Stick to your blogging hustle ladies, you might have some kinks to work out at first, but stick to it. Continue to tell people, continue to improve and most of all continue to produce that good content.

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Some days might be easier than others, some blog posts may be more or less popular than you expected but keep at it, it’s so worth it. You’ve got something unique to offer, so don’t keep it under wraps! It’s amazing what happens when you’re willing to put yourself out there, even just a little bit.

Good luck!

5 tech tools for blogging bosses

If you’re a blogger, you probably know how time-consuming managing a blog can be. You need tech tools for blogging because between editing your pictures just right, resizing them for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram—and making sure your posts are typo-free—one can become frazzled very quickly.

Blogging bosses cannot afford to be stressed out. We must maintain an air of effortlessness at all costs.

So, here are a few of my favorite tech tools that take care of the annoying parts of the blogging business so you can keep focused on the big picture.

Fiverr

Delegate, delegate or delete; that’s my mantra. If something will take up more time than I have available, I find a capable person to handle it or I delete the idea.

Find a programmer to do those annoying CSS edits to get your blog looking just right, or hire the perfect graphic designer to breathe new life into your blog images. Fiverr has it all, and for $5 a pop, you can too. No wahala!

Tomorrow App

How many times have you been stumped trying to figure out where you wrote your to-do list? Okay, maybe you’re organized and your lists are always within reach, but, there’s nothing like being able to see all your to-do’s, personal and professional, in one place and never run out of paper!

Tomorrow App is a simple app without distractions. Just put in a to-do item and tap to cross the item off the list when it’s completed. If you don’t get to it, it automatically transfers everything over to the next day. I’m a staunch ‘paper and pen’ girl, but this Tomorrow App on my phone is a lifesaver!

PicMonkey

I take most of the pictures for my blog, ThisAfropolitanLife. Photography is on my list of creative pursuits. As much as I try to make sure I take pictures good enough to post without edits, sometimes I fail and a little touching up is necessary.

PicMonkey is a quick and effective online tool. No need to download anything, just upload and edit away. For blog graphics and more involved designs, I use Canva.

Canva

Between Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram and all the other social media platforms, one can be tasked with a nightmare of a job; adjusting one single photo into dozens of different sizes, just to make sure they display properly.

Canva makes this easy and eliminates the stress. They have pretty pre-designed templates in all social media sizes you need. It’s a one-stop-shop to make all your blog graphics come to life.

Grammarly

There’s nothing more off-putting than an errant typo or grammatical error on a blog post. Don’t loose readers, tighten up your prose with Grammarly; a free tool that catches typos and grammatical errors.

It’s like having your own personal editor or English professor within reach. Just upload your document or post and watch Grammarly work its magic.