The average working-class woman gets caught up in an entangling web where she is trying (so hard sometimes) to achieve her goals, reach her maximum potential, score-in on every success story and look effortless while at it.
It is like she wanting to be wonder woman; hair blowing in the wind (or no hair at all), athletic legs standing firmly in the ground, and beauty unhinged as she saves the world, in this case, hers.
Most people say you can almost never have it all. You can almost never be extremely successful, which comes with a lot of to-do list, running around, and still look glamorous while at it.
Or to be specific, keep to your health/beauty goals as you slay in both financial figures and that figure 8.
But at the end of the day, it all boils down to having a balance, realizing that in this thug life of achieving your goals and your glow, you can manage it all, because it is your life and you are in charge, always.
Here are a few pointers to help you
Set up realistic and achievable plans
Sometimes, when you set up a far-reaching list of what you want to achieve, that is all they are going to be – far-reaching. Where you stretch yourself beyond every elastic limit until you crack and the pressure becomes visible.
Create a list of practical success plans, or health/ beauty regimen you want to achieve for the next one month (it is always good to do it in bits. When you flood yourself, you overwhelm yourself) and stick to it!
Have a scale of priorities
In this case, I would say your health first, but, different strokes for different folks. So make a decision of what takes the front seat and have the other at the passenger seat, with the seat belt on.
That way, they are both on the same level, but one thing has the wheels and navigates the other, which happens to be secured and safe regardless of a crash.
This is when you know that there is no perfect balance and sometimes wonder woman gets a hit or two. The ultimate goal should not be perfection but rather contentment.
This way, you’re able to find the core of things, that you hold them firmly yet delicately together.
We all have it. Look for yours.
Make sure you are passionate about what you do
Passion makes everything look stress-free because you exude a different kind of joy while ticking off the goals that reflect on your skin and glows you up.
“Find what you love and let it kill you”. According to Bukowski, this is a great tip for being happy and fulfilled enough to run that errand, set up that meeting and not dreading it all every step of the way.
And because you are away from that toxic and draining environment it is most likely to reflect positively on your glow.
Give yourself love, backed up by smart thinking, that way you will not put yourself or your business in jeopardy.
How are you growing and glowing this month? We want to share your story! Click here to share.
The cosmetics industry has become diversified and increasingly competitive with different brands of make-up entering the market every year. Each brand offers a new feature in enhancing beauty in different ways.
Nigerian-born, Uche Enweugwu is a young African entrepreneur who is launching her new cosmetics line after being in the makeup industry for a few years.
She began her makeup career in Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada and is now looking to expand her brand/expertise worldwide. Initially, she started out by launching her own YouTube platform – MakeupbySwift and is now launching her own cosmetic brand – CUE Cosmetics.
Her experience in the industry has given her an inside look into the process of launching her own cobrand. She spoke with SLA contributor Esther Manuala Shem, and gave her some insight on her progress thus far.
When did you first discover your love/passion for Makeup artistry?
It all started when I was 17. At the time, I struggled with acne and dark spots. I was on a mission to find products that worked for my skin when I stumbled into make-up.
Then I fell in love with how make-up enhanced my beauty and gave me the confidence to face the world. I found joy in doing my make-up and the make-up of others which eventually led to my career in makeup artistry.
Also, I was motivated to improve my craft, so I went to a makeup school where I became a certified makeup artist. It’s been over 5 years and I still feel just as excited and motivated as I was when I first began my career.
What do you enjoy the most about being a Make-Up Artist?
I love being a makeup artist. I find pleasure in enhancing people’s beauty.
I remember my first bride. When I was done with her makeup, she looked at the mirror and started screaming. I couldn’t tell if she was happy or angry. I was nervous and too terrified to ask.
Eventually, I summoned the courage to asked her if she liked or hated it? She looked back at me with teary eyes and said, “I have never looked this good in my entire life”.
That statement resonated with me because that’s exactly why I do makeup. It so that people can look at themselves and be marveled by just how beautiful they can become. I left that day feeling grateful knowing that I wanted to continue making people happy through makeup.
My happiness comes from the fulfillment of making people feel beautiful and happy.
What do you think is the biggest challenge in turning your passion into a career opportunity?
My greatest challenge so far has been the entrepreneurial stride that comes with making my passion a career.
Trying to start and run a small business myself has not been easy but I would not have it any other way. It has been a learning curve and I appreciate every bit of it.
How did you manage to dive into the cosmetic industry and launch your own MakeUp line?
It was a gradual process. I worked in the industry for about 5 years before I decided to start my own cosmetic line.
It took a lot of research and years of identifying gaps in the industry that I felt needed to be filled. After 3 years of research and planning, my dream is finally becoming a reality.
I will be launching my cosmetic line early this year. The first products to launch are the lash series and it launches at the beginning of January.
The beauty of it all was paying my dues by working in the industry before deciding I wanted to create something to contribute to the community.
Tell us about the name of your brand and how you came about it.
The name of my brand is CUE. It is simply my initials put together. The “U” stands for Uche which means intention. Regarding my brand, I like to think of the “U” as standing for Ucheoma, which means beautiful intentions in Igbo.
I wanted something easy to pronounce that also spoke to my passions and intentions for the brand. I want anyone wearing my brand to feel their best and above all be themselves.
What sets your brand apart from others in the industry, in terms of servicing women of color?
As an African woman, I want my brand to capture and include all the nuances of color. Our goal as a brand is to be inclusive and diverse.
I remember working at a beauty retail store and having to watch a lot of disappointed African women leave the store because they couldn’t find their shades.
I would often offer the option of mixing it with other shades to find the perfect match and that itself is not cost effective. It motivated me to want to do better when I start my cosmetic brand, which is my goal.
With more African women starting businesses in the diaspora, do you plan on offering more selection for women color across the board?
Absolutely! We cannot be inclusive and diverse if we don’t provide more options for women of color across the board.
That’s certainly the goal and we intend to achieve it. I’m excited about the products in the making.
What is the long term goal of your makeup line?
The goal of my makeup line is to be inclusive. Nothing would make me happier than to know that I participated in serving a world where women and men come together to have fun and feel beautiful with makeup.
Being able to express themselves while wearing CUE in the beauty community would mean everything to me.
Interested in contributing for She Leads Africa? Click here.
Are you that person who does many different unrelated things and you are criticized for not being focused on one?
Do you feel lost when people you know have a particular thing they are pursuing, while you juggle different hats without a possibility of finding a job title that contains all your passions?
You are multi-passionate.
It is alright to change your mind every now and then. Don’t beat yourself up for going in different directions; be open to trying new things.
If you embrace it, you will find new systems to help you do all things you are interested in, while remaining focused and productive.
A multi-passionate individual is a person who has various passions and often finds answering the question, “what do you want to become in the future (or when you grow up)” difficult as they feel they have to settle down to one thing only. Such an individual is also known as a renaissance person, multi-potentiality, polymath, or scanner.
In today’s business environment, Steve Jobs, Tim Ferris, and Richard Branson are good examples of multi-passionate people.
Other historical examples include Maya Angelou, Aristotle, and Sir Isaac Newton among others.
Wondering how to be okay with being multi-passionate? Here are the steps to take:
1. Accept who, and where you are
As with some many other things in life, you have to accept who you are, then devise a strategy or strategies that will help you through the journey.
Speaking about his own journey of finding self, Nick Maccarone observed that by not limiting himself or attempting to dupe his heart into some “conventional path it knew better than to follow” he allowed himself to “take a little bit from each experience and lean into the intricacies of my being”.
“I am not defined by one thing or by anything,” He wrote on Medium. “I follow where my heart and curiosity beg me to consider. I pursue each path as wholly as I can while not exhausting the possibility of doing the same for another.” he continued.
When uncertain about an idea, don’t wait until when the choices seem clearer in your mind.”Clarity comes from engagement, not thought,” says Marie Forleo, an entrepreneur, writer, and philanthropist.
The best way to go about unveiling your ideas is by acting on them. Pick something on the list, anything- and jump right into it.
It is by doing that you discover if the idea is something you want to put your energy into or move to the next thing.
All in all, you don’t have to feel bad for not having one specific passion that you follow.
Franchesca Ramsey, an artist, comedian, activist, TV and YouTube personality and actress advises other renaissance people to keep a calendar. Additionally, she tries to stick to the schedule and also keeps a personal day to explore things that she was not able to do during that week or work on personal projects.
“My team knows that if it is on the calendar, that’s the time that is blocked off.”
“You kinda have to set those boundaries for yourself,” she adds.
Below is a link to the 31-minute interview Ms. Franchesca did a while back to help you get started and re-discover yourself as a multi-passionate individual.
Interested in contributing for She Leads Africa? Click here.
Linda Abakus-Mallan is a graduate of Pharmacy. She obtained her B. Pharm degree at the University of Jos, Plateau, Nigeria.
Linda is a Pharmacist who runs her own pharmacy store, and the founder of Leandahs Foods – a natural spice shop and the go-to destination for natural foods and spices at affordable prices.
She is also married with two adorable children.
In this article, she talks about what led to her passion for natural foods, her biggest lessons and experiences as an entrepreneur and shares some nuggets of wisdom for aspiring mumpreneurs.
Tell us about your business – Leandahs Foods.
Leandahs Foods is a Nigerian spice shop that processes and sells healthy foods and spices at affordable prices. From extra virgin African black olive oil to acha flour, turmeric powder, unadulterated raw honey, rosemary leaves, and other natural foods and spices. We’ve got lovers of natural foods covered!
Apart from that, we add value to the lives of our customers by sharing amazing contents centered on natural health and delicious natural food recipes.
What led to your passion for natural foods?
My health condition during my second pregnancy was a tough one. I battled with borderline gestational diabetes, especially during my third trimester.
I was told I was going to be induced which was a No-No for me. So, I had to source for alternatives that would make my birthing process easier. I leaned towards natural products and the rest, as they say, is history.
My passion was further fueled when a close friend of mine was able to battle and survive breast cancer simply by eating clean.
So, I told myself, if I had doubts before, her experience opened my eyes to the healing wonders of foods and vegetables (natural foods).
What were your main concerns about starting a small organic business?
Truth be told, it wasn’t easy! I was worried about the accessibility of my products to more people and the availability of my products.
Plus, being a newbie in a niche that is fast becoming heavily dominated, I was worried about how to stand out from the sea of other competitors.
What has been your biggest lesson since starting Leandahs Foods?
Patience. Consistency. Focus.
As a business owner, there are days when you are tempted to pull out your hair or let your temper run wild especially when there’s a misunderstanding with your customers or people who work with you.
It is easy to lose focus and give up easily as a business owner. At timeses, you’re plagued with low sales, glitches caused by vendors you source from, logistics problem and the likes.
Or you could even be intimidated by the success of your competitor (s).
And I’ve also learned not to follow what every other person is doing. I dare to be different, I infuse ME, I infuse my originality.
Where do you see Leandahs Foods in the near future?
Leandahs Foods is definitely going places. I intend to own my own acha processing plant in the future and to have a natural food brand to be reckoned with.
Apart from running Leandahs Foods what else do you do?
As a pharmacist, I run my own pharmacy store. Thanks to the benefits of social media, when I’m not running the pharmacy or Leandahs Foods, I’m a full-time housewife.
Any advice for aspiring mumpreneurs?
Dear would-be mumpreneurs, be ready to put in the work. This entails doing lots of research, being creative (dare to think outside the box), learn to manage your work-life balance, be ready to learn (even if you have to pay for courses) as there is no end to learning.
Practice patience, be consistent, and above all, be prayerful – seek for God’s blessings and favour.
Interested in contributing for She Leads Africa? Click here.
Being a woman in a male-dominated industry is a challenging reality for anyone, but thriving in the said industry can be done, and it can be done well.
I had the privilege of speaking to Naomi Michael Adenuga, a successful female talent manager in Nigeria about her experience being one of the very few women in the entertainment management industry.
During our conversation, she candidly shared the realities of the struggle, and how she negotiated it to become one of the most sought-after agents in the space.
So, who exactly is Naomi?
Naomi is a multi-award-winning brand strategist and talent manager committed to helping people identify their purpose and monetize their talents. She is the founder of Naomad Talent Management Agency, which represents gifted individuals and visionary brands passionate about their craft and meaningfully connecting with their audiences.
She and her world-class team of professionals help clients hone their skills, develop confidence in their capabilities, and strategically build and position them as viable brands with longevity.
She boasts of over 9 years of experience and is unapologetic about taking her “seat at the table.” Her sharp intuition, a penchant for over-delivery, and exceptional ability to connect to her clients have gained her the apt moniker of “Boss Lady”.
She has a true heart for people and believes that everyone comes into the world endowed with certain talents given for the purposes of earning a personal living, sharing with others for social good, and impacting the world.
A few notable awards she has won during her career include Talent Manager of the Year, Entertainment Personality of the Year, and the Young Achievers Award.
She has most recently been nominated for Nigerian Entrepreneur of the Year by Nigerian Teen Choice Awards and Entertainment Personality of the Yearby Nigerian Achievers Award.
With such a compelling set of accomplishments, I was eager to have her share her story and perspective on how to “kill it” in a male-dominated industry.
How did you discover your purpose and passion?
I found my purpose when I started my passion filled talent management journey. Talent management means building up a person and guiding them to their highest potential.
I call it King making, some people are Kings and some others are King-makers. As time went on, I had people come to me for advice on general stuff and work stuff.
The more people I spoke to and worked with to help build them up, the more fulfilled I was. My purpose is to help others find their purpose and become better versions of themselves. By doing so, I not only build myself up as well, but I get to do what I am passionate about and fulfill my purpose.
What was it like initially trying to break into a male-dominated industry?
It was tough I had to constantly prove myself, work harder and smarter.
How has your experience been since then, and how do you navigate challenges?
It’s honestly not as bad as it was in the past. The industry is evolving, and I noticed the change when women and men started being nominated in the same award categories.
A few years ago, it was: Best Female Talent Manager or Best Female Artist or Best Female DJ; now, it’s Best Talent Manager, Artist, or DJ.
The gender bias is reducing.
When I have challenges, I talk to God about it. He always gives me a strategy (laughs). I also have a few people in my Industry I go to for guidance. I look at women who are breaking boundaries in male-dominated sectors and I draw strength from them.
Women like Ibukun Awosika, who currently serves as Chairman of First Bank of Nigeria; Kemi Adetiba, who is a leading music video director and filmmaker. She directed The Wedding Party, which is one of the highest grossing films of all time in Nigeria.
Finally, Tiwa Savage, who is one of the biggest names in the African entertainment industry. She goes toe to toe with the men and comes out on top of her game. She sells out venues like the men and is a mother.
These women and a couple of others have consciously and unconsciously laid out the blueprint for the next generation of women to break into and thrive in male-dominated industries.
I draw strength from them by reminding myself that they too must have faced similar challenges and more but keep pushing. This tells me that I too can do it, survive, thrive and beyond.
Why did you choose the entrepreneurship route over working for someone else?
I didn’t have a choice really. The last job I had working for an entertainment company ended because the CEO dissolved the company. I had to make ends meet, and so I started working independently.
I began by writing proposals for people, coming up with strategies, consulting here and there for upcoming artists and small brands, while moonlighting as a manager of a nightclub and serving as an event planner.
I was working by myself and just winging it. Along the line, I realized, “girl you really can do this”. I never applied for a job with any company after that and continued working for myself. I also discovered that I am a natural born leader.
Can you share a little more about the non-traditional route that brought you where you are today?
First off, shout out to my uncle and mentor who gave me my first shot, Efe Omorogbe. I was basically doing nothing with my time and getting up to no good, and so my mum insisted that I reach out to him.
He is the CEO of Now Muzik and is an entertainment industry powerhouse. He gave me a job as his personal assistant and was always extra hard on me. I felt it was pure hell.
I was basically his shadow, going from business meetings to strategy sessions, taking minutes of staff meetings, etc. I didn’t even realize I was learning anything. And boy was I stubborn!
He fired and re-hired me a few times. But, during my time working for him, I learned a lot, though I still had no idea of the potential I had to become a great talent developer and manager.
Long story short, here I am, doing what I love and absolutely killing it if I do say so myself. If you know Efe Omorogbe, you know he is a tough man and you get the highest level of training with him.
I am a product of that high-quality training.
We love the fact that you acknowledge you are absolutely killing it. If you had to sum yourself up in 5 words, what would they be?
What is your greatest accomplishment or the thing you are most proud of in life?
I was raised by a single mom who did everything you can possibly think of to raise me. It wasn’t easy, and we had really difficult times.
She slowed down on work when I was in my early 20’s due to health issues, and I had to find a way to fend for both of us.
I would say my greatest accomplishment is being able to now comfortably take care of her and give her a better life than the one we had while I was growing up.
What are some of your biggest challenges as one of the very few women killing it in the talent management game in Nigeria?
My biggest challenge was not being taken seriously because, 1. I am a woman, and 2. There is a misconception about talent management.
It seemed to many like it was all about the glitz and glamour [with little substance]. I was seeing a guy once, who said to me “If I take you home to my parents, what will I tell them you do?”
Looking back, I am thankful for that moment because it motivated me to put in more work, refine my work, and strengthen the ethics around my work.
What tools and tips can you share with someone looking to start their own talent management agency?
First of all, if you cannot serve, you cannot lead. (This applies to anyone about to start their own business). You must put the needs of your clients before yours. You need to believe in your clients and their abilities.
If you don’t, you can’t properly position them and monetize their gifts. The result is that your agency will crumble.
You need to have a moral compass. A moral compass because your agency and clients’ output depend on the choices you make with them.
These choices affect the overall performance of your clients and your agency. Everything they do reflects on you regardless of who originated their choices: you or them.
You need to study the market and identify what makes your clients unique. In doing so, you will know how best to position them, market them, and monetize them.
Negotiating—which is the hardest part. It’s something some people are naturally good at, and others become great at with experience. Knowing your client’s value always helps.
Lastly, your agency/business should be based on loyalty and integrity. You should under promise and over deliver!
Referrals are the best form of advertising for your business, so keep that in mind. If you adhere to these tips, past and present clients will definitely refer your agency to others who will become future clients.
What are some of the most critical lessons you’ve learned over the course of managing your business and your clients?
I learned that your client is your boss and you are your client’s boss. It’s important for both of you to be aligned and have the same goals for the brand as well as have similar principles.
It’s also important to be patient with the process, most especially when the client is new to it.
You must sow into the client before you reap, and the client must undergo a development process before your work starts to bear fruit that both of you can enjoy. So, patience, patience, patience.
What advice do you have for other women looking to break into an industry that is dominated by men? Are there things that helped you?
Be strong, be resilient, be positive. Place no limitation on yourself, and make sure the women around you are strong, loyal and supportive.
Even if you are confident, your supporters will help boost your confidence even more, and this goes a long way.
Always be on top of your game. It’s important to know your onions. What you have in your head and your heart will help you break boundaries and glass ceilings and earn you the respect of your peers – both male and female.
Find a mentor and study women who have thrived in a male-dominated industry and have added value to the society. And God, carry Him along. He opens doors no man can shut.
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As African women, many of us have not had our life path paved with milk and honey. We have witnessed our mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, cousins, and kin put their lives on hold to work tirelessly long hours for little reward.
As I get older, I see more and more within us lays a common internal battle. In the midst of enacting the legacies of our lives, many of us are also carrying ideas engrained in us by our families.
Holding passions they have never known, we are constantly bombarded by family members pushing us to get into a “real career,” (aka becoming a nurse, doctor, or lawyer).
For creative women, with entrepreneurial visions bouncing off their every thought, balancing these two worlds is a beast to juggle.
We sit in a unique position, one where we must create the blueprint for our lives, because no one has come before us to achieve our success, and no one will come after us. What often halts us in our journeys is the countless intimate moments we have within ourselves.
Moments that cloud our judgment, moments that awaken/terrify us, motivate us, or moments when we wish no one is looking. Most times we feel all of the above. To live out your legacy is soul-shaking work. What we forget is simple, following our dreams is not supposed to be easy.
It is supposed to terrify you, wake you from your sleep, and place a fire under you that cannot be ignored. Last summer I had the amazing opportunity to Attend She Leads Africa’s, She Hive Toronto Conference.
The conference cultivated a space for African women, ambitious beyond words to surround, empower, and inspire each other.
Attending this event shook my soul but, more importantly, it forced me to remember the following:
1) Let your ideas manifest
Too many times we hear and feel parts of our ideas, but most of us never actually give them a chance. We don’t nourish them with our energy and allow them to grow.
What we do is the exact opposite. We allow them to sit idle, we minimize them with our doubt and create a reality that reinforces that we cannot accomplish them.
We tell ourselves we don’t have the resources, money, time, blah, blah, blah! But, once we take that first leap towards our dreams, we allow the universe to become our GPS.
2) Be the energy you need
We need to be our own number one fan and our own advocates. Women need to be a friend, sister, and lover to each other!
Most times, we expect people in our lives to validate us, support us, and invest in us. But, are you the energy you need? Are you that push you want others to bestow upon you, to yourself? We need to give ourselves the energy we ask of others.
Light up that room, be that never-ending inviting spirit, because you benefit from it the most!
3) Ask, ask, ask!
Ask the universe.
Ask friends and family.
Be clear and specific when it comes to your goals and what you need from everyone.
PS…. this includes figuring out what you need from yourself!
Need I say more?
4) Know the kind of woman do you want to be
We need to remind ourselves of what kind of women we need to be. What are you not willing to comprise? Do you have your values written down?
What does your integrity mean to you when it is woven into your passion? If we remain grounded in these thoughts we will never regret anything on our path to our dreams.
5) Seek meaningful connections
Networking. Yes, networking is essential. You never know who is in the room. You never know who may be able to assist you or how you can assist another person.
But, even more, important than this, is understanding what meaningful relationships and connections you want with others. Seeking out meaningful connections means you are living authentically. You are not just thinking about a one-sided benefit.
You are considering the person, as a person, a soul to connect with, and not someone who will only be used as a future commodity.
6) With passion, ALL things can be done
Passion is our savior. It stirs you and your being. Our passions give us purpose and demands we show up. Our passions unlock our potential if we allow it to.
Fulfilling the vision and legacies of our passions is terrifying, it will arise a world emotion from you (as it should). Stand firm in knowing the world is awaiting the gifts you have dug a grave for. Be still, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and remind yourself.
“I will accomplish nothing without the taste of fear,” – Zainab Salbi
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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Ahdora Mbelu-Dania is currently a Director at Trellis Group (@trellisgroupco). Trellis group is a group of companies in the brand development and experiential marketing space that has worked on several projects across various industries, with brands such as Microsoft, Google, Sterling Bank, Union Bank, Lagos State Government, Nokia, Diageo, Absolut.
Ahdora has a passion for innovation and a belief in the power of creativity to achieve extraordinary business results. She moved to Nigeria in 2008 and found that there were so many young Nigerians in the creative sector that were unable to harness their creativity and build sustainable brand/business structures – Trellis group bridges this gap.
In 2017, Adaora was mentioned in Entrepreneur Magazine’s “11 Africans that are changing the business landscape in Africa.”
She was also nominated in the “Entrepreneur Of The Year” and “Prize For Media Enterprise” Categories of the Future Awards Africa. She has been featured among Nigeria’s Under 40 CEO’s, and Top 30 Under 30.
Ahdora talks about finding passion, purpose, and creativity.
How did your family background and rich cultural heritage prepare you for the success you experience today?
My family background provided a diversity of thought. My parents are from different racial and cultural backgrounds, and this provided an opportunity for me to understand diversity very early in life.
Hence, I keep a very open mind, and this allows me to forge relationships with people without bias for their backgrounds.
You seem to value creative thinking above traditional practice, has this always worked for you?
I actually value both creative thinking and traditional practice. I think both ideologies have their place in my life’s journey. The important thing is that I know how and when to apply either one to produce positive results.
Many people view creativity as rebellion and going against the norm. But I believe that everyone is born with some level of creativity, and thus there’s nothing to really rebel against.
We just need to harness this creativity to solve problems and produce great work. I try to stay away from the tag of “Creative” vs “Non-creative”.
At the very core, what is your company – Trellis all about?
As the name implies, Trellis is about providing a structure/framework that supports people to get their greatest work out to the world.
Trellis Group was created from the need to solve and bring light to the existing challenges faced in the African creative sector. We are a creative consultancy made up of a group of companies in the sectors of Brand development (Gr8an), Experiential Marketing (A2Creative) Talent Management, and Community Development (Socially Africa).
You definitely fit the idea of a superwoman. Do you face challenges as a creative strategist?
Being superwoman definitely comes with various challenges – even the superheroes in the movies have to fight people, and even their own emotional struggles.
I have my fair share of challenges, especially as I not only work on the client side but also manage operations.
I am continuously dealing with solving people’s problems, and that sometimes means fully immersing myself in understanding the problem first, before I try to solve.
How do you identify ideas that are competent and sustainable and those that are not?
There two things I usually consider when I’m presented with an idea. Does it solve an existing problem And can it progress without the creator? I think the best ideas are the ones that can grow without the person who developed the idea.
The world has got this entrepreneurship game all wrong. From my perspective, it isn’t about founders, as much as it is about solutions.
It isn’t about who did it, but rather that it was done. This is why as much as I respect investor pitches and all that good stuff, I also know that Purpose will always trump what everyone else thinks.
What do you look out for in ideas/projects that come to your agency for actualization?
With the projects we work on, we choose our clients as much as they choose us. Many times we focus on the people behind the projects.
We have been through the start-up phase where we’ve worked with people and projects that we didn’t necessarily have a heart for because it was profitable. However, we are now at a stage where we measure value very differently.
These days, we choose peace of mind over financial gain. I know it’s a bold statement to make, but it’s factual. I’m not as concerned about quantity, as I am about quality. Hence, a lot of our business is either return business or by referral.
How have you been able to juggle your demanding career and your role as a mother altogether?
I am still learning to juggle it all. I don’t have a perfect response to this question, especially because I really don’t believe strongly in “work-life” balance. At least, I don’t believe that it must be 50/50, and thus I don’t put pressure on myself or feel that I am falling short in my responsibilities.
I take each day at a time, and give as much as I possibly can, per time, with the understanding that to whom much is given, much is expected.
I mean, my family and friends believe that I am an amazing mother, and I know I am. However, I have read mommy blogs that just make me look like child’s play. But I have learned to abandon comparison, and just enjoy my mommy moments – they are mine.
Your dress style is fiercely distinct and bold. How come you decided to stick with the classy suit and tie look?
This wasn’t a conscious decision. My father was a banker, and he wore a suit every day throughout my childhood.
He’s a very stylish man, and I remember him having socks that match every one of his ties. I think it seeped into my subconscious.
It’s really just comfortable for me. I wear a suit (no tie) or Kaftan for professional outings. However, on my dress down days (which are very often now), you’ll find me in a T-shirt, Jeans, and a Hat.
We know Ahdora as a woman with many hobbies, one of which is horse riding. We’d love to hear all about it?
The Lagos city grind is intense, and horse riding is my way of tuning out from the hustle and bustle to relax my mind. For the few hours that I’m on a horse, I do not check on my phone or emails. It allows me to breathe, and while I’m riding, I often get clarity on some ideas or projects.
It is also a way of spending time with my Husband – we both get on our horses and ride off.
What do you say to young creative people who want to turn their passion into reality?
Passion is great, but the purpose is better. There’s a misconception that Purpose is about our “Why” alone. But the purpose isn’t just about “Why are we doing this”.
It is also about “Who will benefit”. When you understand that this journey is really about the solution, you’ll express yourself more confidently.
Be open to collaboration – if you don’t care about who gets the credit, you are more likely to do many amazing things. Finally, be Patient – Time is a great storyteller.
How have you been able to deal with multiple business ventures including your social projects in Socially Africa?
Socially Africa is a full embodiment of who I am. In fact, I run the for-profit side of my business, as a way to fund Socially Africa.
In the past 2 years, we have accomplished so much with the organization, with initiatives and projects funded primarily by Trellis, with support from friends and family donations.
With all the platforms that I deal with, there is an underlying philosophy that runs through them. So, as much as it sometimes seems as though I am doing too much, it’s actually one big circle with a thread of purpose running through it.
Recently you launched your first single, tell us about your singing career.
I don’t know if I can call it a singing career. I’ve always written poetry, and been a fan of conscious music – I’m intrigued at how the lyrics and intensity of a song can consciously influence people.
On a spiritual side, I’ve always likened myself to Joseph the Dreamer, as we share similar qualities and journeys.
Last year, I started reading closely about David’s transition from Shepherd boy to King, and how he wrote love songs to God through what we now know as the Psalms.
It’s very powerful. I ran away from music for a long time because I was worried about what my clients would think, and how people would perceive Lumina (The Rapper) versus Adaora (The Creative Industrialist).
Self-awareness is a beautiful thing I’m now high up on Maslows Heirarchy of needs. I’ve hit Self Actualization, so I’m out here swag surfing as a “Rapper-preneur”. (I should copyright this tag).
Purpose is something you emphasize on. How did you discover your purpose?
I have always been interested in helping people become the best versions of themselves, and get their greatest work out to the world. I was always told that people were using me as a stepping stone and then abandoning ship once they were elevated.
At some point, it bothered me and it was very frustrating until I realized that it was a gift. Many people are searching for purpose, without realizing that it’s staring them in the face, but they’re too afraid to accept what it is. They think it’s too glaring, and they want it to be tough to find.
My purpose is simple, I am a Bright Light, and I shine on other people. Simple.
Your hair looks moisturized and beautiful always! What’s the secret?
The secret is…. wait for it… Water! I get this question a lot, but really I think my hair texture is as a result of my mixed heritage. I don’t have any regimen or specific preference for products.
However, I am sure that my hair would grow better if I considered product – I just don’t know how, and yes, I’ve watched YouTube tutorials.
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I recently came across a TED talk by Natalie Case and Freya Estreller. They are co-founders of CoolHaus, a company that creates architecturally designed Ice cream in the U.S.A
I found their passion and drive for their business fascinating. They started their business with an old postal van, which they converted to an Ice cream truck.
In less than a decade, CoolHaus has grown into a multi-million dollar enterprise. It now has over ten trucks, two scoop shops and is being distributed in over four thousand groceries stores across the U.S.
They currently oversee seventy employees and they plan to broaden CoolHaus to the number 1 recognized Ice cream brand in the world.
Bringing this home to Africa, with the entrepreneurship buzz going on right now, I began to look at the reasons for the springing startups we have right now, especially the businesses founded by women.
Why do women want to be their own bosses? What makes entrepreneurship exciting and interesting right now? I asked around and found answers like:
I. More income will help me take care of myself and my family
II. A business will help to beat the recession crunch
III. It will enable me to be independent of my spouse/ partner
IV. No one wants to be a stay-at-home mom anymore
V. I want to be respected and admired as a capable leader
All of these are great motivating factors but are these all there is to entrepreneurship? These do not have the ability to project a business to global standards.
It is important we know the motive for creating a business because of this, in most cases, determines how far a business will grow.
A woman may want to augment her spouse’s income. She may start a business to achieve this and this will determine the kind of business she goes for and what her vision for her business will be.
If her trade achieves that goal in a few years there might not be a need to expand the business any further. While earning enough to cater for her family is important, having this mentality about the business may stifle it.
If we survey all outstanding businesses, we would discover they were created by people who had a vision of making their companies prominent in the world. This factor may be deficient in Africa’s startups.It is imperative that African women entrepreneurs must first begin to develop a different orientation towards startups.
Building the right business starts from the core, but the right questions need to be asked. Why is it being started? What motivates an individual to start a business?
If these questions are answered correctly, this would change the way African women entrepreneurs approach their businesses. Sadly many entrepreneurs do not know the ‘WHY’of their business.
This crucial step is neglected AND camouflaged with reasons like “Everyone swears by it onInstagram“, “It’s what brings in the cash” and “It just seems like the best thing to do now”
The ‘why’ of a business also establishes if a business is the right thing to do. Does it really meet a need? Does it emerge from an undeniable conviction in the entrepreneur’s heart?
Listen. There are two ways to go about it.
1. Find a passion to turn to a business or find a business to turn to a passion
While a business is something entrepreneurs should be passionate about they shouldn’t be delusional about the relevance of their business. Every business should satisfy the needs of people while accruing profit.
2. Striving onwards
While being financially liberated may be a reason a business is started it should not be the sole reason a business continues. 50% of the United States GDP comes from small businesses employing less than 500 people.
African women entrepreneurs should seek ways to come together and build a conglomerate enterprise that can employ young people from every scope and status in Africa thus helping young entrepreneurs off the streets.
Women should be encouraged to dreambig and start businesses that can grow into mega-corporations in their lifetime. This indeed is possible.
Pamela Enyonu is a copywriter at ‘Aggrey and Clifford’ and an artist. She’s the kind of woman you want around when things get a little crazy. Something in her air, her manner of speaking, the bold look on her face, her stride…it all tells you that this is a woman who knows how to get things done.
In her art, she bares her soul and isn’t shy about it. You may choose to blush, look away or judge, it doesn’t matter. She’ll be too busy making important statements through her art to fit into those tiny boxes women are often placed into.
What drives your passion for art?
Art is my center, my clarity, and my god. When I do art, the world rights itself. I am driven by stories. My art is a re-imagination of my and the stories of those around me. I am inspired by stories of triumph and self – empowerment.
Where did your artistic journey begin and how has it evolved since?
My artistic journey began when I was about 8 or 9 years when I made the decision to do art in primary 4. I vividly remember drawing a yam and finding it so easy and from then onwards, I never looked back.
I went to art school at Kyambogo University, majoring in printmaking and multi-media crafts elements. This has somehow found its way into my crafts. During my journey, there are times when I have deviated from my path, however, I have always found my way to the things I love.
Could you describe your artistic process?
For a long time, my process was pretty organic. However, these days I have deliberate plans, reading, collecting and educating myself on the stories I want to tell. I use words and photography a lot in my work.
My process begins with composing the narrative before I begin making the art. I then keep adding layers as my point of view gets clearer. For me, it’s important that my message is clear despite all the multi-layered looks.
I am currently acquainting myself with the more abstract thought processes and I have to admit, this is alien territory for me. I am hoping to produce more abstract work in the future.
How can African artists protect their art?
Africa is a vast continent that has inspired a lot of ideas at home and beyond. As African artists, you always run the risk of your work being misinterpreted. I don’t think it’s something we can control.
However, we can perhaps get ideas from other industries that successfully manage to protect their work. For example, coders sign their work through embedding unique codes that only them can interpret. Perhaps, as artists, we can begin using tech to protect our work.
Other than that, I think documenting your work and having a good lawyer’s number on speed dial should help.
What do you think will take for African art to gain as much appreciation as say European art?
We need to educate people on how to appreciate art. Unlike music where the beat just takes you, art is deliberate. You must immerse yourself in the art and the artists, learning their motivations, their ethos etc. That way you will gain a unique appreciation.
I think schools should be involved in the arts, arranging tours to galleries and meeting the artists etc. There should a deliberate effort to groom a culture of going to art places. Everyone should visit a gallery at least once a month.
If you could creatively collaborate with any artist in the world, who would it be and why?
Liberian-American artist Lina Viktor Iris and Lady Skollie from South African. Lina inspires my desire to ascend as a mixed media photographic artist. Her work evokes a sense of reverence and worship.
Lady Skollie, on the other hand, appeals to the rebel in me. Her work is thought-provoking in completely unexpected ways. I also like that she draws her inspiration and style from her Khoisan heritage. It’s empowering to embrace our narratives with no apologies.
What does the future look like for Pamela Enyonu?
All I want to do is make good art, turn into a competent carpenter and teach for rest of my life. Everything else will be a bonus.
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