She Hive Nairobi: What participants are saying

The first day of She Hive Nairobi featured attendees from diverse fields. The room oozed with entrepreneurship, passion and beauty with brains, left, right and centre. The attendees are frontiers in print and digital marketing, media, cosmetics, fashion, freelance journalism, and writing. This coterie of African trendsetters have titles going from start-up magnates to Motherland Moguls, leaders to marketers, directors and CEOs to media strategists and professional consultants.

One thing for sure is that these ladies are high-fliers. By attending the She Hive Nairobi they have already hoisted their sails for the entrepreneurship voyage. The beauty, charm, courage and confidence are something to be awed at. This is the event this side of Sahara that you never want to miss.

Here is what some young women are saying about SheHive

Sylvia Moraa, CEO and founder Tech Hub Creations

What I do: I am graphic designer, branding and a print consultant.

The session was great. Yasmin is a resourceful, motivating and an engaging person. My key take away from the session was the emphasis on tracking marketing contacts and how to define entry points for my business. As a marketer, I have attended many trainings and I felt that the session was a validation of what I have learned and drives business in my line of work.

Phelena Jean, Founder of MADAM Indigo

What I do: I provide luxury hair extensions for women of distinction.

The most important lesson, I gained in this session was the necessity of keeping spreadsheets of integral contacts in my industry.

Leilah Namisango

What I do: Digital marketing executive/Head of content, Kidz Culture/Ramsa Ltd

I am glad that this session tackled many things that I was eager to learn. The content delivery was okay and I loved the personalized interactions from the SLA co-founder. I felt that issues that touched on market research insights, customer profiles and business development were handled effectively by Yasmin.

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Loni Carol, Semgalawe

What I do: Entrepreneur and founder of ILadu. I am in the development stages of setting up my business.

I learnt a lot in this interactive session and what stood out the most was importance of customer research and Google creeping to my business.

Ruth Nkirote, Director Tina LTD

What I do: I am a marketer.

She Hive Nairobi boot camp was a lively discussion full of gems. I got to learn more on my customers, what their problems are and how I can provide solutions for them. I now understand the importance of having to write down my business contacts and ideas. Lastly, Yasmin highlighted on how grow my business through my community and I can set value to my customers. Overall, She Hive addressed what my business needed to move forward.

Anonymous

The key points I’m taking away are to learn to get feedback from customers,  the importance of being creative on how you market and getting out value set

8 things we learn from the acquisition of Kenyan beauty brand, SuzieBeauty

Suzie Wokabi

In 2011, Suzie Wokabi, founder of Kenyan cosmetics brand, Suzie Beauty, said the following about her vision for her brand: “My dream is to turn SuzieBeauty Limited into a household name for everything beauty on the continent, and internationally. I want to become the MAC of Africa!”.

Six years before that, she had returned to Kenya as a trained makeup artist looking to stock up on goods. She faced a number of challenges such as not being able to find the high quality brands she was used to. Where she was able to find them, they were often unavailable, overpriced, or counterfeit. So in 2009, Wokabi launched her own local brand.

Seven years later, she is in reach of the vision she set out for her company. On January 25th, 2016, SuzieBeauty announced that it has been acquired by regional manufacturing company, Flame Tree Group, pending approval of the competition authority. Suzie said the following about the sale of her company: “For me this is the biggest milestone so far.”
Suize Wokabi

Wokabi explained, “with the resources at Flame Tree Group, SuzieBeauty will likely expand its range to include skincare products such as cleansers, moisturisers and eye creams. There will also be investments into better distribution and marketing. In the long-term, production could be moved from China to Kenya”.

This wife, mother, daughter, and entrepreneur is trailblazing the way for other Motherland Moguls. There is so much to learn from the successful sale of Wokabi’s company. We’ve narrowed it down to just 8.

1. Do your research

In choosing to start a beauty brand, Wokabi did extensive research on the Kenyan beauty market. In an interview with How We Made It In Africa, Wokabi said the following: “My research shows that the development of products to fill our specific market needs has the potential of becoming a big and profitable business.”

She also did extensive testing of her products in the market before launching her business. She developed her product line and spent a year of testing on the market before launching in 2011 and beginning retail operations in 2012.

2. Choose to work in your passion

Wokabi once said, “If I did not completely love everything about SB and the beauty industry, I would have given up a very long time ago. I now understand why most startups fail. When you don’t have the passion and everything is an uphill battle, it becomes so easy to quit.”Suzie Wokabi

3. Dream BIG

From the start, it is clear that Wokabi had a strong vision for her company and brand. From her early interviews before the launch of her product line to more recent ones, the vision has always been, as she said, to “distribute Africa-wide. The sky is the limit”.

4. Know your magic

While strong on quality products, Wokabi has said time and time again that the affordability of her products is what makes her competitive in the local and international market.

When she was asked if SB stand out in the midst of international beauty brands that had recently entered the Kenyan market? She responded, “None of them will ever beat me in price. The whole point of SB is the affordability of quality beauty products.”Suzie Wokabi

5. Get help in your weak areas

Wokabi says she knew nothing about business prior to her endeavor. She has especially struggled with financials, an area her husband has supportive in.

6. Learn from your mistakes

While successful, Wokabi has never shied away from the mistakes and mishaps in her journey. After some false starts with partners, Wokabi made sure to engage differently with future partners.

She explained: We have had so many bad partnerships. We have had both equity partners and debt investors. There were just too many mistakes made. We were very particular about this one. This time we didn’t make any mistakes – and it feels right, completely.”Suzie Wokabi

7. Engage with investors and finance partners who understand your company and your vision

While in talks with Flame Tree Group, Wokabi was in talks with other potential investors. She had this to say about Flame Tree Group: “The chemistry has always been right from the beginning. So any challenges we ever came across, we would fix together.”

Flame Tree Group CEO, Heril Bangera, also had this to say, “We want to increase the brand’s presence in the market. We have seen the brand is successful, so there is an opportunity now to use that as a base to grow it within Kenya and beyond.”

8. Knowing that someone did it helps

Wokabi often mentions her role models, Bobbi Brown, in interviews. Bobbi Brown was an American professional make-up artist who founded Bobbi Brown Cosmetics. Estée Lauder, the America beauty products giant, bought the brand in 1995, with Brown retaining creative control. Wokabi will similarly retain creative control of SuzieBeauty.

We wish Wokabi, SuzieBeauty, and Flame Tree Group much success in their new venture. What other insights have you learned from this acquisition? Share them below.

6 career lessons from global superstar Lupita Nyong’o

Lupita nyong'o

Since her feature film debut in 2013, Mexican born Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o’s star has been lit and has remained that way ever since. With a beautiful smile, a boatload of talent and passionate voice she’s been winning hearts all over the globe.

Proven to have many more film projects and theater shows up her sleeve, Lupita is the exact kind of career woman we will happily take future-improving advice from.Lupita Nyong'o

1. Doubt is part of the path

Lupita has said in interviews that when director Steve McQueen had already asked her for a leading role in his screen picture Twelve Years A Slave, she still felt like he could call back any moment to tell her he had made an mistake.

We love how open and honest Lupita has been about the impact of her career so far; living the example that doubt can be a useful instrument rather than a barrier that holds us back from developing ourselves.

2. Speak up for things that matter

The fine art of supporting a cause and not becoming the center point of it – Lupita masters that.

Whether it’s her ambassadorship for WildAid or the race and gender diversity discussion in Hollywood, Lupita’s pages include inspiring posts that explain her personal relation to the cause and encourage fans, readers, followers to get involved.

Lupita Nyong'o

3. Be aware of what makes you happy

Though she has won more awards in two years than lots of peers do in a decade, Lupita says her greatest satisfaction comes from being an inspiration to girls all over the globe, her native Kenya included. Validation and success can not always measured by money or prizes – your social footprint can play a big part in your happiness.

4. Support your environment

Whether it’s her stylist Micaela or co-actress Danielle Brooks, Lupita is supportive of those around her by putting on for them publicly. Especially via social media, Lupita is very outspoken about her talented friends and coworkers.

Lupita Nyong'o with Danielle Brooks

5. Drastic change can make for growth and opportunity

After attending different schools in Nairobi, Kenya, Lupita left for Mexico and the United States, where she went to college. Although it took her a while to appreciate this new environment, Lupita explains: “I was very indecisive about what I wanted to do. I knew that if I was in a more structured environment, I would end up not taking the risks I was raised to take.”

Look at her now!

6. Value your surroundings

When she won an Academy Award, her brother Junior Nyong’o was right by her side, and in other press, Lupita speaks lovingly of her family as well. She says honesty, dignity and integrity are some of the most important character traits she has learned from them. All my conscious life, my father has fought for what he believed in, even when it was highly inconvenient.”

Coming from a hard-working, well known and successful family, Lupita acknowledges the privileges she has been able to enjoy, and always shows gratitude for education.Lupita Nyong'o

Any other career lessons you’ve learned from mega star, Lupita Nyong’o? Any other stars you would like for us to research and investigate?

Career lessons from Ethiopian born business mogul, Mimi Alemayehou

Mimi Alemayehou

Ethiopian born, Kenya raised Mimi Alemayehou is a Managing Director at portfolio company Black Rhino Group, and Executive Advisor and Chair of Blackstone Africa Infrastructure LP.

After studying International Law and International Business, Alemayehou found development consultancy firm Trade Link Holdings LLC. She has held major positions as Director of International Regulatory Affairs at WorldSpace Corporation and was United States Executive Director at the African Development Bank. The mother of two has also served as Executive Vice President of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC).

If you are like us, you will hold your breath after reading about Alemayehou’s career journey. Below, we share some insights from this African power lady.


1. Strive for your educational goals

Mimi: The first successful entrepreneur I knew and looked up to was my grandmother. She could not read or write but she was one of the smartest women I have ever known. I often wonder how far she would have gone if she had been allowed to go to school by her parents, who chose only to send the boys to school.

Although, the silver linings of your career may not shine through that window frame just yet, your education is a step towards reaching your career goals. Mimi agrees (higher) education is a huge part of the African growth story. 

Mimi Alemayehou

2. There is much more in your future

After being asked whether she thought her position at OPIC was the climax of her career, Mimi replied: “I have always believed that life is a journey of learning; there is no end to it until you are no more.”

Although, success can be comforting, that comfort shouldn’t stop us from going beyond our comfort zones. There is always a next move. “I don’t believe there is such a thing as a perfect position or a dead-end job. At every step, you learn. Life’s a journey of learning.”

Mimi Alemayehou 3. Believe in your work ethic

During her career at the African Development Bank, Mimi was the only woman working in the midst of 17 men. I have never doubted myself in the things I pursued. Fortunately, I have had some amazing mentors in my life and in turn I try as much as I can to mentor as many people, particularly young women.”

Confidence is key when it comes to directing your future. Feeling strong about what you do and what you want will minimize doubt.

4. There are ways to do it all

In terms of the balancing act of career and family, I believe mothers are natural multi-taskers”, is Mimi’s response to ‘how she does it’. And no matter how many exciting career moves she has made, she says “being a mother is my biggest accomplishment so far.”

Mimi believes prioritizing and accepting the pros of cons of having to travel for work is key to combining career and motherhood.Mimi Alemayehou

5. Approach situations with an open mind

My most impressionable years were probably during my time in Kenya. I met so many people from many parts of the world for the first time in my life and that had a long term impact in my life as it made me more open-minded and gave me a greater appreciation for human diversity,” says Mimi.

6. Be picky with what advice you take

Mimi’s powerful statement: “I got to where I am today partly because I did not always listen to the advice I got. For example, earlier in my career I was always interested in working on Capitol Hill but a lot of people, including some of my own family members told me that there was no way a member of Congress would hire someone who was not an American citizenI pursued this dream anyway and was ultimately hired as legislative staffer on Capitol Hill. I have found it invaluable to question things and not necessarily take “no” for an answer.”

Be aware of your possibilities, be thorough in how you approach them and follow through.


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