Abigail Naa Lamiokor Tagoe is a 23-year-old beauty entrepreneur from Ghana. She developed an interest in all things beauty, during her undergraduate studies at the University of Ghana, Legon.
She is the founder of Finesse By Maanaa, a beauty community which features a team of professional makeup artists and hairstylists. Her mission is to empower women through beauty and leave her clients feeling the best version of themselves.
Abigail Tagoe is one of the top 5 finalists of the SLA x Dark and Lovely Beauty Accelerator program where she recently went through a high-intensity residency week with the SLA team at the LO’real HQ in Johannesburg, South Africa.
How did you hear about the SLA x Dark and Lovely Accelerator program?
I saw a sponsored post on Instagram about the program and immediately knew that it was what I had been looking for.
However, I was a bit hesitant to sign up after reading the rules, as I had never created a pitch deck before. But I went ahead with it and was so grateful to have been contacted.
How would you describe your overall experience?
Putting my experience in very few words, I would say it has been the most challenging mountain I’ve had to climb in my entire life.
My whole thinking process was disrupted, I mean in the space of a week I’ve had to think outside the box. I’d say I have certainly been driven out of my comfort zone.
Meeting all the important people who are the driving force of the beauty and digital marketing industry was a highlight for me. The information I received was priceless!
What are your 5 key tips for submitting a winning application
Be clear about what problem your business is solving
Hone in on your strongest asset
State some factual evidence using numbers!
Keep it short, but convincing.
Tell us the most important thing the SLA Accelerator residency has taught you.
The SLA Accelerator has raised the bar for me. This program has urged me to press on until I reach my goal. I’ve also learned that the world is not looking for mediocre people. In order to be a driving force, you have to be exceptional.
Now I know that In 2019, I must be among the top 5 most sought-after makeup artist in Ghana!
How do you get your glow up?
My glow up must definitely be from God honestly. It’s too bright, I don’t see how anything else could have done it.
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Asides the obvious fact that the recent economic downturn has forced several young people to have multiple sources of income, it is quite the norm these days to meet people who have a full-time job and are running small businesses on the side.
They are also known as “side hustles”, and even full-fledged companies complete with all the bells and whistles.
Sincerely, it is now a reality that a single income cannot sustain a comfortable lifestyle and this has pushed the average young Nigerian to get creative and take a dip in the entrepreneurship pool.
Here are six ways to convert your many interests to money in the bank:
Starting and running a business is not for the fainthearted, it will constantly push you out of your comfort zone.
For example, if you have a fear of speaking to strangers, you will have to overcome that when networking and marketing your services to potential customers.
Take on practices that will not only push you out of your comfort zone but also work on improving your weaknesses. You don’t have to be an expert, just be comfortable enough to deliver value that people want and need.
You need more than passion
It’s great to be passionate about your business ideas, but don’t let your enthusiasm blind you from reality. Be honest with yourself!
Ensure there is a market to tap into and you are ready to put in the work. Get honest feedback from people around you; even friends and family by offering your services to them.
You have to be truly good at what you do. Your passion could be making people’s faces up, but are you skilled enough to train others?
Also bear in mind that as a business owner, you’ll be responsible for reporting taxes, marketing your business and sorting out your finances. Are you ready for all the responsibility?
Offer Real Value
What void can you fill in the market? For example, if you are a makeup artist and there is no makeup studio around you, that could be a viable business opportunity.
The goal is to take advantage of the gaps in the market, that way you stand out and enjoy greater returns before the copycats join you in that space.
Ask yourself how you can make the industry better? Is this the business that keeps your entrepreneurial juices flowing?
Let’s say your passion is making furniture. Why are you better than your competitors? Is it because your materials are sourced locally? Or your products are unique and one of a kind?
That would be more appealing to customers as opposed to buying generic mass-produced furniture.
When I started my consulting company, I had used several competitors. I knew what made them great, but I also knew what I wanted that they didn’t offer.
I knew how to better the services. I started it and here we are!
There are several ways to make money off your passions:
Selling an actual product such as clothing, beauty products online or in a store.
Sharing your knowledge about your passion by blogging, writing books or making videos. Between sponsorships, subscribers and selling your own products, you can make a decent living. For example, Arese Ugwu turned her passion for financial literacy into a book – The Smart Money Woman – into a book that is being sold in several countries in Africa and the UK.
Offering consulting services by giving advice on anything from law to skincare.
Investing in an idea you are willing to financially support.
Creating a software or gadget that makes life easier for people. For example, if you were a makeup artist, you could create an app that helps people find the right makeup products for their skin tones.
Start an event around your passion, such as a regular meetup, seminar or a festival.
Make Fun a Priority
Maintaining your passion when starting a legitimate business can be difficult. Some people even forget exactly why they started a business in the first place.
To prevent that from happening, always make fun and passion a priority. Your passion should reflect on your company policies, your passion should be communicated to your employees when you are hiring and they have to be equally passionate about your business as well.
It would be great if you have a lot of experience, however, don’t be too hard on yourself, there’s always room for growth and learning. For example, a furniture maker may be great are creating unique tables, but not so good at creating sofas.
You can learn as you go along your journey, don’t wait till you master the craft before you start your business.
Malcolm Gladwell says it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert in any field. Nonetheless, don’t let the perceived amount of time it would take you to be the best at what you do deter you from moving ahead with your plan.
It may not take you that long to master your craft, as you long as you keep looking for ways to improve your skills. Always ask for feedback and track your progress.
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Muthoni Maingi is a true renaissance woman. She uses the power of digital innovation to transform lives.
Being the Head of Digital Campaigns at Oxfam is just the latest place she is flexing her muscles. She is also the founding director of the Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE). Muthoni was also an integral team member in Safaricom projects like BLAZE and Little Cab.
In this insightful chat with SLA, she shares some insights on her career journey and growing with the new digital trends.
At what point in your life did you first learn about your field of work? What called you to it?
As the Brand strategist at Creative Edge, the director would find my colleagues and me on Twitter fairly frequently.
Instead of reprimanding us, she challenged us to think through how we could begin to sell digital as a service for the agency as it was traditionally lead at the time.
As the Head of Digital Campaigns, what exactly do you do?
My work at Oxfam really allows me to live true to my passion and purpose! I stay up at night thinking of initiatives that use the power of digital to connect people and amplify voices to influence decision makers.
With my team, we work to grow the brand to become a leading digital influencing organization. We use mobile, web and social media to drive, support, donations and offline participation of millions of people globally.
Does Oxfam still consider traditional media and offline campaigns in this digital age?
At Oxfam, I am constantly inspired by the amazing work that uses digital technology to influence and leverage the power of people to end poverty.
The organization’s inspiration and drive to achieve change for millions of people is embedded in the values, mission, and vision. It is the exact same whether applied to campaign offline or online, there is no separation from the core objective.
How has your current role changed your perception of how powerful technology can be in changing lives in Kenya & around the world?
I don’t necessarily feel like I am just now seeing that technology can and does have the potential to create change. What I can say has changed is that my approach has always been very Kenya and Africa based.
I think that it is great that organizations across the globe are increasingly making diversity a core strategic agenda and that means that varied expertise in the room allows for improved performance and efficiency.
Consequently, this experience has allowed me to exhibit our regional ingenuity on a platform that is hungry for fresh perspectives from this part of the world.
What advice can you give about personal growth and knowing when it’s time to leave a job even when it throws you out of your comfort zone?
Prior to working at Oxfam, I held major positions in the telecommunications sector. I have always had very specific objectives in terms of how I see my career going.
I look at what my objective is in terms of my career goal and what space is available for me to explore that as well as to build something of value for myself and the organization.
For example with Safaricom, I was really looking at how I could bring digitally lead segmented prepositions to life.
Being secure in that knowledge, I began to look for spaces where I could grow from a digital perspective and lead a team that actually creates digital products. The opportunity at Oxfam offered me that.
How important are mentors to you? Do you have any?
I try to avoid what can be termed as the ‘expert by proxy’ bias. Where we tend to listen to the loudest person in the room and assume that as a result, they are competent and capable.
I genuinely look deeper to find people who are ‘true experts’ in the aspect I am looking to grow towards, even if they are the quieter or less visible ones in the room. Or even if they are not in the room at all.
I consider different people mentors in different ways. Actually, I ensure that they are the actual people that I should be talking to.
Having been so successful in the famed ‘Silicon Sahara’, one of the most competitive tech industries in Africa. Does this mean women are getting better recognition for their contributions in the tech world?
It would not be accurate to look at my path and determine that the state of women is improved because of it. My success is not a beacon of change as a lot more should be done and a lot more can be done to ensure that no one is left behind.
Women have a long way to go to get their dues in this industry, not because of their lack of talent or capability but simply because we operate in a world with restrictive, discriminatory and in many cases violent social norms. This applies to all women regardless of class, race, gender and sexual orientation.
What do you think is the biggest misconception women have about how to become successful?
The fact that this question is only asked of women says it all. Women across the board put in the work, glass ceilings are the biggest problem that women face.
These ceilings appear in overt, micro-aggressive or in hidden values and norms that keep women consistently not only fighting to deliver results in their day job but also having to work around harmful social norms as another layer of labor.
The only work that women should be doing is working to deliver to the bottom line, the strategic objectives of an organization.
In moments of self-doubt, what do you tell yourself?
I really believe that I am my biggest cheerleader. I know myself, and I am very comfortable with failure. My self-doubt, as a result, is usually very short-lived.
I’m lucky that the only ‘right’ thing that I have done in my life is to surround myself with a fantastic network of cheerleaders and truth tellers.
They really keep me away from damaging self-doubt with great advise, recognition and validation.
What are your proudest career moments so far?
The Bloggers Association of Kenya is the baby that I am most proud of. Being a part of something that has helped so many people and grown an industry that otherwise did not exist as a Founding Director fills me with a lot of joy.
What advice can you give about being fearless and following your dreams?
Fearless? That isn’t me, I have a lot of fears. That said, the best advice that I have ever been given came from Sylvia Mulinge who was my Director while at Safaricom.
“Progress not perfection, believe that if you have been called into the room then your contribution is valuable. The people in that room want you to succeed.”
What is the one thing you will not be happy if you haven’t achieved when everything is said and done?
I am increasingly concerned about my relationships with people, friends, family, workmates and several others. I would not be happy if I did not achieve a real and authentic relationship with these people.
Personally, I think that when you have solid relationships, everything else will figure itself out. Without that, what are we really here for?.
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The comfort zone is a terrible thing. I’ve probably made this statement and tweeted it at least 20 times in the past month. This article is as much for myself as it is for many of you out there.
The comfort zone is this wonderful place where you can sit pretty and be comfortable. In the comfort zone, you have a good level of assurance that despite not being where you are meant to be, you are okay for the time being.
It might be a physical space or a mental one. One thing is certain though, the comfort zone is a dangerous thing. There are steps you should be taking, moves you should be making to put yourself out there. But you’re not.
In your 20s and 30s, you have got the zeal and energy to make things happen. Your mind is fire and you have so much potential you need to explore. So, why aren’t you popping right now? Because you’re comfy…in the comfort zone.
Unfortunately, the comfort zone isn’t where great things happen. You can’t realise your dreams or start the business you’ve been planning for the past six years in it.
Sure, many of us have heard stories of how opportunities literally fell into the laps of unsuspecting people. This model was discovered by a scout as she went about her shopping in the local mall; Rita Dominic accompanied a friend to an audition and got discovered. But let’s be real, that’s just not everyone’s story. And while you’re waiting for the mystery opportunity, the clock is ticking.
Haven’t you noticed that some of the greatest hustlers are those that started from the bottom? With no safety net or comfort zone, there is no other choice but to hustle for all it’s worth.
It might be a plush prison, but you’re in a holding cell nonetheless. Girl, you need to step out and the time is now.
Leaving is really scary. You’ve got a myriad of fears. What if I fail? Well, so what if you do? If you do, you pick yourself up and go back to the drawing board.
If you don’t try, you’ll never know and will resent yourself in the future for wasting the prime years of your life saying what if?
So what do I do now?
– Tell yourself you need a change
This first step is very important. It might sound so simple but you shouldn’t underestimate the power of the spoken word.
If you aren’t convinced in your spirit that you need to take charge of your life, then it doesn’t matter how many times others tell you. You need to tell yourself this, and you need to believe it.
– Start doing the groundwork and looking for opportunities
Look for opportunities that excite you and scare you at the same time.
– Take a leap of faith!
Go out there and just do it. Take action. It’s not necessarily going to be an easy path but the heat refines the diamond.
Once you get out there, you can really get your hustle on.