Eva Toby: How To Stay Empowered When You Feel Life Sucks!

Eva Toby is an Amazon Bestselling author, media personality and presenter. With a degree in psychology and Masters in Social Work from the University of Michigan, and an MBA, Eva is passionate about helping women and young adults bring clarity to their purpose.

She is the creator of The Purpose Blueprint: 7 Easy Steps to Clarity. Eva has been featured in Genevieve Magazine, Afro Elle, Spice TV, LA Talk Radio, WHPR and more!

Eva is 6ft tall and has modeled part-time for the past 10 years as a car model for Ford, General Motors and Chrysler, getting premier access to some of the fastest cars in the world. 
In this article, she talks about overcoming challenges and finding her purpose.

 On creating “The Purpose Factor” book…

If someone had told me several years ago I would be a best-selling author and purpose pusher, I probably would have laughed.  However, it’s always fascinating how God truly knows things way ahead and has greater purposeful plans for us even when it comes out of tragedy.

I was led to create The Purpose Factor book after the sudden death of my dear cousin in 2014.  With my emotions being all over the place from a state of shock, sadness, and confusion. I found it really hard to cope after experiencing such a significant loss.  

I remember one day picking up my bible to read for encouragement, and it was at that moment these notes had fallen out. The notes were actually from a message, two years prior, that I’d shared with a youth group at church about the significance of living life to the fullest and making your time here on earth count!

There is no growth in your comfort zone - @evatobyXE Click To Tweet

 Notably, I’d read my bible so many times prior to that and never realized I kept those notes tucked away in my bible binder. It just goes to show the significance of the timing.

At that point, I remember this resurgence of passion and desire of sharing with the world the Power of Purpose. And I wanted to get the message across that each person on this earth is valued and has an assignment. I realized how life is so precious and fragile.  

And that ‘Time’ is not money but life! Hence, it is imperative that we maximize our time here in order to be of value and impactful.

The Purpose Factor book was dedicated to my cousin who indeed lived life to fullest and impacted so many lives.

On facing life challenges…

The past few years have indeed been life changing and challenging to say the least.  From the loss of my cousin, and then another cousin. And then, I lost my father in 2016. Experiencing such significant losses in a span of a few years has been indescribable.  

Couple that with trying to stay focused on building my brand/business, it was not easy. But one thing I learned through this process that keeps me going is that even in pain there is still a purpose.  As painful as the process has been, I realized God still has me here for a reason and wants me to keep going.

I firmly believe that passion is for “yourself” while purpose is for “others” - @evatobyXE Click To Tweet

Perhaps there may be someone out there that will hear my story and be encouraged to keep going despite the circumstances and challenges they are facing.  

I learned that in life we all have seasons, and every season has an expiry date. It is the endurance during those seasons that prepares and makes us stronger for the rest of our journey in life.

3 ways women can stay empowered…

Whether it’s the loss of a loved one, broken relationships, loss of job, or personal struggles, rough times happen to everyone at some point in life.  

Trying to remain hopeful and positive through it all can be challenging. Especially when overshadowed with feelings of confusion and loss which begin to resonate so deeply.

Never curse the process! Your purpose is a product of the process - @evatobyXE Click To Tweet

While you may feel like you are in a hopeless space it is essential to be reminded you are not.  You are in a season of transition and need to remember there is a breakthrough on the other side of the breakdown.

Below are 3 ways you can stay empowered when you feel life is taking its toll on you:

1.  Acknowledge Your Feelings 

Almost everyone at some point has had that feeling of hopelessness and despair. The truth of the matter is that it is OK.

We are all human and embracing your vulnerability is the first step to reclaiming your power.  Remember acceptance is not a sign of weakness and by no means an indication that you don’t desire change.

But rather than suppress those feelings, acknowledgment gives you the confidence to deal with them and start making a way for something new to emerge in your life.

2. Have An Attitude of Gratitude

 There is so much power when we cultivate an attitude of gratitude in our daily lives.  Research studies have shown the positive impact on people who focus on gratitude.

Gratitude facilitates increased self-esteem, optimism, happiness, improved mental health, progress towards goal achievement, increased energy and more.  

Therefore, it is important to start making gratitude a daily ritual. You can start by creating a gratitude journal for yourself.

Each morning and/or evening tries to think of at least two things you are grateful for in that moment.

3. Look for Opportunities of Growth

When life hits us hard, we are often led to start with “why me?” or “why is this happening?”  It’s natural at first but if we dawdle in this space for too long, it can lead us further onto the pathway of self-pity.  

Hence the importance of changing the narrative from “why” to “what”. Start thinking about “what” you can learn from this moment and season of your life.  

Focusing on the now and learning from it is such an empowering lesson and opportunity for growth when you feel like life has beat you down.

Remain Encouraged and Empowered! No condition is permanent. Keep reaching and thinking of the desires you aspire to. Start with each hour, then each day.

Purposeful living requires you to act upon your intentions.- @evatobyXE Click To Tweet

On easing stress…

In my free time I really enjoy traveling (especially if the place has a beach and some sun, LOL), shopping, reading, laughing, learning, and spending time with family and friends.

I do like exercising which is an amazing stress reliever.


 Interested in contributing for She Leads Africa? Click here.

Makalela Mositsa: I am on a journey to create a powerful legacy through leadership empowerment

Makalela Mositsa, simply known to some as Kay, is an author, model and social entrepreneur with a passion for helping women realize their true essence.

She helps young women make the transition from being ordinary women to becoming future leaders with real impact and deal with the sometimes overwhelming prospect of starting a new business while still maintaining a healthy home.

Makalela started writing for She Leads Africa in early 2016. This year, she ventured into leadership empowerment where she coaches high school youth on topics like becoming leaders and starting their own businesses.

Makalela offers a wide range of programs and services – from individual coaching to seminars and keynote addresses.

Fellow SLAy queen Jeanette Nkwana had a chat with her and got to know a little more about this multi-faceted woman.


How did you go from social entrepreneurship to the runway?

Modeling has always been a passion for me. When I heard Miss Eagle SA was modeling and empowerment all wrapped in one, I knew that I had to be part of this amazing contest.

Miss Eagle SA is a great platform for me to reach out to and motivate as many individuals as I can. Women empowerment has always been my first love and modelling is just fantastic.

Getting to do the two simultaneously has been an exciting journey for me. I believe doing what you love is freedom but having everything in one package is indeed a blessing.


Why leadership empowerment?

Leadership empowerment is synonymous to transformation. Click To Tweet

It is the art of bringing out the best in others and encouraging them to lead and pay it forward by empowering others.

Realising that though a lot of people have dreams and great ideas but still need to be empowered so that they can fulfill their desires is what ultimately led me to this path.

Without empowerment, motivation, and encouragement, dreams of world change will remain just that, dreams.


What are the top 3 qualities you believe any leader should have?

  • Passion for what you do
  • Full of motivation
  • Aspiration to make a difference


You help young women transition into leaders, what is your approach to this?

A good coaching process sets the way forward, holds people accountable, enables them to take responsibility for their own direction, opens up the way for greater communication, increases competency, and expands innovative opportunities. 

These are all ingredients of leader-empowering behaviors, which has been shown to increase psychological empowerment also. 


If you could, would you travel back in time or into the future? 

Back in time. What I know now leads me to believe I could’ve been better and done more in the past. I don’t regret the past, but I do feel I could have made a better difference than I did.


Where do you draw your inspiration from?

I draw inspiration from within. The intense passion that is burning within me always pushes me to reach for my dreams.

It inspires me to be limitless and driven, and ultimately be a better person than I was yesterday.

What are your top 3 hacks for dealing with school, entrepreneurship and work/family life?

  • Set time for each task- prepare a schedule at night for the tasks I’ll be doing the             following day.
  • Attend to tasks in accordance with their priority.
  • No matter how swamped I am with school work and meeting deadlines, I never take for granted the time I need to spend with my family.


How do you explain the complexity of entrepreneurship?

Everything originates from a thought, what you think you become. Click To Tweet

Many entrepreneurs who have achieved phenomenal things did it without being in possession of formal qualifications. They observed what was happening and lacking in society and thought implemented ideas that could eradicate such problems.

Entrepreneurs believe in their own thoughts and work hard to bring them to life, but they also never forget the importance of education, in whichever form.

When you are in business you need to understand the market, comprehend the business language and most importantly make others see and understand your brand narrative so they can invest their time and money in it. 


If you had to describe your life right now using a movie title, which would it be and why?

Journey. I’m on a journey to create a powerful legacy that will forever continue to empower others and have a positive impact on the society.


Has your age or gender ever been a problem for some of your clients or anyone in general? How did you deal with it?

I’m a simple person, just a young lady with big dreams and a strong desire to realize them. People are different, some arrive at their own conclusions about you before getting to know you and others get to know you before judging you or your capabilities.

I had moments where I was looked down on because of my gender, age, and appearance, but I always let my work speak for me, I’m confident in my abilities. 

What has been the greatest lesson you learned building your different careers?

If you can think it then you have the ability to breathe life into it. Our imagination is boundless and that on its own makes us limitless beings.

We all have greatness within, whether you make it count is your own prerogative.


What advice will you give to young women who want to go into social entrepreneurship and women empowerment?

Firstly, believe in yourself and in your dreams. Do it because you love it. Never let the fact that people don’t see and believe in your vision hinder you.

Finally, be the change you want to see.

Sharon Kadangwe: No competition without innovation

Sharon Kadangwe
You won't find anyone else who will be as honest with you as you are with yourself Click To Tweet

Model….. what comes to mind is the svelte size zero figures, catwalks, high fashion and of course the G_L_A_M_O_U_R! And usually when we talk about Runway Fests, its all about the gorgeous models working the runway and less of the amazing superstars behind these events. With that said we decided to challenge the norm and spotlight a poet, writer, model and entrepreneur from Blantyre, Malawi who goes by the name Sharon Kadangwe.

Sharon has a degree in Counselling Psychology but is also passionate about fashion, arts and empowering girls. She has been modelling professionally since 2012 and has appeared in fashion shows in Blantyre and Lilongwe. Sharon has also appeared in several themed photoshoots and adverts for Airtel and Nedbank. 

Her interest in the fashion industry grew beyond modelling over time as she became one of the founders of the Winter Ankara Fashion Expo (WAFE) an annual street fashion show which occurs in Blantyre and started in 2015. 

Is it possible for a teen starting her modelling career to just breakthrough without undergoing a training of some sort?

It depends. In other circumstances some of the best models have just been scouted in the street. Scouted means they are seen by someone who works in the fashion industry and then from there their careers start, they then train as they work. Most international models start their careers like that, locally we have Jack Thunde who was scouted in South Africa.

You then have another group of models who make it because they are hard-working and passionate and they get training. In our industry, it’s not everyday that someone is scouted so you would have to train and practice if you want to find jobs as a model.

What makes WAFE different from other festivals?

Everything about WAFE is unique. The name is unique, where it occurs is unique and how we do it is unique. We are the first fashion show in the history of Malawi to be held on the street. The Winter Ankara Fashion Expo  (WAFE) is an event that we created after we realized that most fashion shows in Malawi were centered around the capital city and the summer season.

We hold it at the end of July, which is the end of the cold/winter season in Malawi and we have it on Victoria Avenue. The reason why we chose that particular street is because of its history and the significance it has in the present day. We also wanted to have an event created by Blantyre, for Blantyre that anyone could enjoy.

Sharon Kadangwe

Which is the most important, strong headliners or strong supporting acts?

Great question.

Being someone who’s been on both sides (attending and planning an event) I would say headliners are important but supporting acts can also make or break the headliner. The tricky part is in finding both strong headliners and strong supporting acts at one event.

Sharon Kadangwe

The aim of WAFE is also to promote youth entrepreneurship within the fashion industry. Is it going according to how you envisioned it?

Yes. It has. Response from the event so far has been positive not only from the attendees but the designers. We have been able to provide a platform for different types of designers, especially upcoming ones. Models we have auditioned and trained have gone on to parade in different shows and campaigns all over Malawi.

That’s what we wanted to do; give people a platform to people so that they grow and develop with the skills they learn and empower others to do the same and that chain keeps going until the industry expands and grows and I believe with time that will happen.

You can't have competition without innovation - Sharon Kadangwe Click To Tweet

How competitive is the industry?

It’s competitive, challenging and slowly responds to change. I believe most of the competitiveness comes from selfish ambition and greed. If we had a lot more people willing to collaborate with others to grow the industry things would move at a faster pace.

But at the same time you can’t really call it competitive when people don’t come up with their own creative ideas they just copy what others do. You can’t have competition without innovation.

You’ve had much experience with festivals now. What seems to get easier with time?

Hahaha, I wouldn’t say 2 years is a lot of experience but I have definitely learnt a lot about myself, what I can do, how people think, how to work with others and how to talk to people from all walks of life. The only thing that becomes easier is seeing where you made mistakes and being willing and able to fix them. We have had a lot of disappointments and setbacks over the past 2 years and being able to pick yourself from that and forging ahead is also something that comes with time.

What doesn’t get easier is the same thing; experiencing a setback, making a mistake and getting disappointed. It goes both ways. Managing events is an unpredictable industry. You can plan everything to the last second but anything can happen. Nobody ever expects bad things to happen, but they do. What matters is how you deal with them

Sharon Kadangwe

Can you share with us your greatest work related accomplishment

I have a few accomplishments that I’m proud of but at the top of my list would have to be featured on africa.com, I was given an opportunity to talk about WAFE and all the things I do.

I also performed poetry and gave  a talk to female students at the S.H.E empowered retreat for girls last year. It was amazing to have such an opportunity, when I was in school I hoped for such events to happen and so I’m really glad I was able to share my story and my art to other young ladies.

Fun question! Do you ever talk to yourself? When and what do you say?

I really laughed out loud at this question so that’s one sign. Doesn’t everyone talk to themselves? I talk to myself everyday, all the time. Sometimes I might ignore someone and have a conversation with myself in my head.

It’s usually about my day, I ask myself questions, try to figure out if I did something wrong and how I fixed it or I’ll think about music I’ll listen to or I’ll come up with a poem or I’ll think about my past and my future.
It helps to talk to yourself, you won’t find anyone else on earth who will be as honest with you as you are with yourself.

What do you want Sharon Kadangwe to be remembered for?

On my birthday last year my mum wrote me a letter and she asked me a similar question, she asked what I would want written on my epitaph and I’ll use the same response I gave her
“A passionate believer who aspired to live the life of purpose which God intended for her. Romans 12:2”

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

Twitter Chat with Tania Omotayo: You, Your 9-5, Your Side Hustle & Your Brand (Dec. 8)

side hustle your brand

Balancing your day job and your side side hustle is never easy. It’s even harder when your 9-5 is with a budding company in the entertainment industry and your side hustle is a modeling career, among other things. Top that all off with aspirations to start your own company and build your personal brand and you’ve got one busy schedule. How do you keep track of it all and how do you get the skills to do so many separate things?

Join us Thursday Dec. 8th for a twitter chat with the one and only Tania Omotayo. She is making a name for herself across the entertainment, marketing and modeling world and she is about to reveal some news about a fashion business she has been working on for a year. Don’t just wait and watch! Learn from this Motherland Mogul that is moving and shaking across the Nigerian sector and beyond.

Follow She Leads Africa on twitter and use the hashtag #SLAChats to ask your questions and participate in the discussion.

Topics that we’ll cover:

  • Breaking into the entertainment or fashion industry
  • What does it mean to be a Creative Analyst
  • How to start your own business in entertainment, marketing, or fashion
  • Staying on top of everything

Twitter chat details

  • Date: Thursday Dec. 8, 2016
  • Time: 7am NYC // 1pm Lagos  // 3pm Nairobi
  • Location: Follow She Leads Africa on twitter and use the hashtag #SLAChats

Help us spread the word:

Join @SheLeadsAfrica & @TaniaOmotayo for #SLAChats on Thurs Dec. 8th at 12pm GMT. Click To Tweet

side hustle twitter chat

About Tania Omotayo

Tania Omotayo is a versatile young lady born in Lagos to Austrian and Nigerian parents. From age 14, she studied in the UK and America, and graduated from the Art Institute of Atlanta with honours in advertising, before returning to Nigeria to start a career in Brand Management.

She has over 4 years’ experience working in branding and media companies that have managed and worked with some of Nigeria’s biggest profile entertainers and corporate clients including MTN, Pepsi, and Nigerian Breweries.

She also runs her own company, a branding and digital marketing consultancy for small and medium size enterprises. She is passionate about midwifing the growth of brands.

Tania’s formal career as a model started in 2014 when she was the face of a leading Nigerian fashion house Jewel By Lisa’s ‘Print Party’ campaign for online retailer Fashpa.

In 2015, Tania became the face of fashion designer Maju’s ‘Rinnovo’ collection. In 2016 she became the face of Last Shot recovery drink as well as the face of Nigeria’s prestigious designer eyewear storehouse ‘House of Lunnettes’.

In the same year, she made her debut on the runway, closing for bespoke designer Mai Atafo at the Lagos Fashion and Design Week.

Twitter Chat with Iman Mkwanazi: Building your brand while in school (Nov 10)

build your bran with iman

Your university years are an important time to lay the groundwork of your career and build your brand. Many people even choose to begin a side hustle while in school. This side hustle can become a full blown business or just work towards establishing your authority in a certain field.

While the idea of building a brand is great in theory, the practicalities of doing so can be daunting. We assure you it’s not too complicated. Building a brand consists of not acting a fool, and planning your moves. Whether you are looking to be a blogger, a model, an entrepreneur or simply be an authority in your field even before you receive your diploma, building your brand while in school  is essential to all your future endeavors.

Join us Thursday Nov. 10th for a twitter chat with South African entrepreneur, blogger & model, Iman Mwkwanazi. While studying for her BSc Honours, Iman was also hustling to co-found a construction company, build her modeling and blogging careers and establish herself as a creative director. Needless to say, it took lots of branding and planning ahead. She will be sharing her advice and processes for establishing her thriving brand while completing her studies.

Whether you are in school or not, this webinar is one you will not want to miss.

Some of the topics we’ll cover:

  • What it means to have a brand
  • Balancing school & your side hustle
  • Finding and networking with people in the right industry
  • Establishing your voice & authority early one
  • What to do when your studies and the industry you are going into don’t align

Webinar Details:

  • Date: Thursday November 10, 2016
  • Time: 7:00am New York City // 12:00pm Lagos // 1:00pm Johannesburg
  • Location: Follow She Leads Africa on twitter and use the hashtag #SLAChats

Help us spread the word:

Tune into #SLAChats on twitter Nov. 10 @ 11am GMT to learn from @ImanMkwanazi about building your #brand in school: Click To Tweet

build your brand

About Iman Mkwanazi

Iman Mkwanazi is a busy girl. As a Bsc Graduate, entrepreneur, blogger, model, creative director, influencer and speaker, she works with companies and brands to optimise their brand awareness through digital, content and social media marketing. She is also the co-founder of Mkweni Groundwork.

Mkweni Groundwork was founded two years ago and they are contractors for City Parks and Studio Six interior design. In the short time that the company has been around, it has been featured in Forbes Woman Africa and Iman and her partner Nene Mboweni  are Levi Pioneers Nation speakers.

Iman is also the Creative Director and contributor for online magazine; MadMash, which focuses on lifestyle, health, wealth and fashion. She most recently covered Africa Fashion Week for MadMash.

Iman has collaborated with various brands on an array of projects, including Puma, Spitz, and Styling for Mr. Price. Iman has also modeled for companies such as Edgars, Legit, Cell C, Adidas, Nike, Samsung and Foschini.