Udoka Uju: I am the first woman in Nigeria to come out boldly as a creative Painter

Udoka Uju  the ‘first lady painter’ as she fondly calls herself, is specialized in creative wall designing (interior and exterior painting). She is  also the founder of the ‘Grab a brush, Color a Life’ Initiative,which targets poorly kept environments and beautifies them. She took a bold step in 2015 when she resigned from her banking career to pursue her passion as a painter.

... I am an influence to all other creative women out there... Click To Tweet

What does it feel like to be a lady painter in a male dominated vocation?

Knowing that I am the first woman in Nigeria to come out boldly as a creative Painter, with a totally different painting concept and solution, does feel good. The idea of it being a male dominated field is because we allowed it to be so in this part of the world. I am glad I am an influence to all other creative women out there, now a lot women are coming out as Painters, even those who only called themselves “Artists” are now adding Painter to their profile.

 

...my experience made me realize how some of us actually take people with blue-ollar jobs for granted. Click To Tweet

 

What gave you the push to walk away from your 9-5 job to
 pursue your passion? 

 

 

What motivated me to go pursue this business idea was the desire to find my own path in life, and to use it to inspire the lives around me. Up until late 2015, I had never thought of being a Painter. I had only always been fascinated with beautiful homes and spaces. I used to wonder what it took create beautiful spaces and I used to imagine myself creating spaces like that. So one day I just started calling myself The Lady Painter, and since then all I think of is how to create amazing spaces for people to live and work in.

 

How was your transition like from being an employee to becoming an entrepreneur? What hurdles did you encounter?

My transition was a hard one, from paid employment to uncertainty. When I started off this business, my experience made me realize how some of us actually take people with blue-collar jobs for granted.

I used to have clients turn down signing an agreement with me, because they felt my job was not serious enough to have an agreement. I found myself spending even my profit on jobs I had concluded. To stop that from happening further, before I proceed on any job, my clients must sign my service request form, with my terms and conditions of service stated clearly, which saves me from being liable for defects on walls that I have no control over. This helps me do my job professionally.

 

Start by taking a first step which is understanding that your life is purposeful. Click To Tweet

 

Tell us about your initiatives and how they are impacting lives,

As part of my desire to give back to society and really inspire lives around me, I founded an NGO ‘Grab a brush, Color a Life’ Initiative. This initiative is all about beautifying a poorly kept school or location- in any local community with colours and patterns. 

The maiden project took place on October 1st, 2016 at Araromi Primary School Mushin, Lagos. What led to it was the desire to not only make money from my skills, but, to also touch lives positively using my painting. I believe that everyone deserves to live and learn in a beautiful environment and so my mission is to inspire people to live in their full potential- using colours and bold patterns. My next project is in Imo state, I choose my locations randomly.

 

Have you done jobs for male clients? Was their response positive or negative and how did you stand up to negative responses?

Yes I have done jobs for male clients and the response is always good, I have not received any negative response or feedback from male clients.

 

What message do you have for women who feel stuck in their jobs and would want to pursue their passion?Where do they start from?

I would give them the same advice I gave myself, which motivated me to be who I am right today, I curled it from a bible verse and gave it some twist. It says: whatever makes you happy, whatever gives you satisfaction, if it will make you a better person, if it will make your neighbor (in this case your customer) happy, and if it will earn you a decent income, then by all means go out there and do it! Start by taking a first step which is understanding that your life is purposeful.

 

How do you combine working as an entrepreneur and pursuing your other initiatives?

Thankfully, both my business and my initiative have the same offering – Painting, which makes it a little easy to manage. The only difference is that one brings in money and the other cost me money.

It’s quite a lot of work because both my initiative and job require me to travel to different states frequently. Also, I have a reliable team to handle my business when the initiative requires my attention. I can be reached on 08063275102 or email info@theladypainterng.com and my website is www.theladypainterng.com.

I am also available on the major social media platforms.

Twitter – @LadyPainterNG

Facebook – @TheLadyPainter

Instagram –  @theladypainterng

LinkedIn  – The Lady Painter


Are you  female painter or aspire to be one?

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

Nneka Obianuju Onubogu: I have never felt inferior because of my gender

Read how Nneka Obianuju Onubogu a Mechanical Engineer; and currently a research assistant at Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman Malaysia, is unperturbed by gender stereotypes in the industry.

A Harvard Business Review article of 2016, was an answer to an inquiry of ” why do so many women who study engineering  leave the field?” And one of the reasons given was “gender stereotypes”. So, if you are contemplating abandoning your career in one of the STEM fields due to gender stereotypes or any other reason, before you throw in the towel, wait!

I have a passion for fixing things Click To Tweet

Having a role model and following your passion makes it easy

Nneka’s motivation for pursuing a career in mechanical engineering were influenced by two things:

“First is my dad, who is a practicing Mechanical Engineer. I admired and still admire him so much that I wanted to be just like him. Secondly, I have a passion for fixing things. I am very inquisitive on the mechanics behind any machines’ motion. Right from childhood, I had a habit of unscrewing all my toys and fixing them back over and over again.”

When you are passionate about anything, it will be very hard for you to throw in the towel, especially when the going gets though.

being different means making a difference anywhere you go and anywhere you find yourself Click To Tweet

Remember that you are a woman with talents and abilities

Being a ‘woman’ should not make you feel less than a human being when assigned to male dominated teams, you are as capable as your male colleagues!

Nneka says “Our research team actually consists of all men (Professors, Doctors and lecturers) and one lady (myself). We treat each other equally and there has never been a period when I felt inferior because of my gender”.

When you still feel overwhelmed,borrow a page from Nneka’s book,”sometimes I feel like ‘a woman in a man’s world’ hence, I give my best contribution to my team”.

Nneka is  currently working on a project tagged ‘Wide acceptance angle optical fiber-based day- lighting system using two-stage non-imaging solar concentrator’. “This is a project sponsored by the Ministry of Energy, Malaysia”.

The papers can be found in the links below:

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S187661021

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S030626191730750X

I have met many ladies like me who are in male dominated career paths and they also strive hard to be the best and make a difference Click To TweetBlend in

Whether you are in a local or global community, do not isolate yourself. Nneka, although from Africa, found herself working and studying in Asia. She quickly learned the language and befriended some locals.

“Even though my University is generally Chinese dominated, everyone speaks English and every lecture and research is conducted in English. Irrespective of that, students and my research team members still switch to Chinese language when they discuss within themselves.

This is not a problem for me as I have learned the Chinese language (conversational) and I can understand what they say. Right now, I am a professional at eating local foods with ease. I am also the only foreigner (African) in my office, but I still participate in every event weather Chinese, Malay or Indian”.

 

Conquer any inferiority complex by actively making a difference

Nneka’s slogan is ” Being different means making a difference anywhere you go and anywhere you find yourself”.

She adds that “the fact that you are in a career path where you are the only lady in a team of men is the key reason for you to stand out”. Some African people say, ‘Mechanical Engineering is not for ladies; a lady should be a teacher, a lawyer or even a house wife’. I can boldly say from experience that it is a blatant lie!

“I have met many African ladies like me who are in male dominated career paths, who also strive be the best and make a difference. This should inspire other women who have dropped out to get back on their feet and even do better” she says.

... I show them that Africans are not racist by braiding the hair of the kids for free. Click To Tweet

 

 

Making a difference includes contributing to the community you find yourself. Nneka does this by using one of her skills to make children smile.

“I have made an impact in the lives of the locals here, especially via my hair braiding skills. I was so surprised when I made it to the Chinese newspapers for just that little kind gesture “.

In addition, Nneka has many solar technology ideas that she intends to implement when she arrives in Nigeria.

You see why she just can’t turn her back? When you are full of dreams and know that the world is waiting to feel your impact, you wont turn back!

 

Networking is one the keys to staying motivated

Networking is today’s currency to getting up the success ladder and staying motivated. Nneka advises those in a global career and STEM fields to “try creating a network with people who are pioneers in that career path. In that way, they stay motivated and become significantly better”.


Are you in male dominated field/ industry?
Let us know more about you and your story here