The power of connections & community

edwina kulego she leads africa

At the beginning of 2016, I found myself in an unmotivated space filled with uncertainty and a lack of fulfillment. I knew that I needed a boost of encouragement and inspiration but I wasn’t sure where it would come from.

I wanted to feel empowered; like I was doing something impactful. Five months ago, I was scrolling through my Instagram timeline and came across the SheHive NYC event posted by one of my favorite African bloggers.

I did a little research on the organization and quickly decided to attend. I was impressed by the lineup of speakers and felt a strong need to connect with African women.

Being born and raised in Sweden to African parents, I always had a strong urge to get involved at some capacity in Africa and diaspora. As expected, so many inspiring and accomplished women spoke during the conference, but there was one talk in particular that struck me.

Bisila Bokoko took the stage and immediately caught my attention. All I kept thinking was…how can I get 20 minutes with this powerful woman? After she completed her presentation, the ladies at the event swarmed around her so I decided to approach her differently.

Connecting out of the box

The next day, I sent her a message through LinkedIn and asked if I could take her out to lunch. She agreed, and our lunch turned into an impactful two hours of sharing ideas, stories and goals.


After our meeting, Bisila invited me to collaborate on BB Knows Best ——her seminar series aiming to influence, empower and advise women to pursue their dreams and goals. Our true passion for empowering women of all ages led to this to this event which took place in New York City on October 19th, 2016.

There is immense power in connecting and communicating; especially for young women in business as we are a minority that is vastly growing. The need for building genuine connections and a meaningful network is imperative. A simple elevator conversation can turn into a successful collaboration or partnership.

Contrary to my state earlier this year, I am now on the path to achieving my personal and professional goals. That wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t take the opportunity to enter into an unknown space and connect with the wonderful women at SheHive NYC.

Bisila and I are looking forward to encouraging more women to step out confidently and connect.

Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator of Studio Museum Harlem: “The digital age has made it easier for artists”

thelma golden african art

Art opens us up to the world. We can get a glimpse into the culture and history of a people through their creations. When it comes to African art, many artists are visual griots who tell a story through their visual work. The digital age has made it easier for artists to present their works on a larger platform. Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem, explained to us at She Hive NYC 2016 that art at its core is multidisciplinary.

Here are some of the points that Thelma Golden highlighted.

– “Digital spaces for art display can have pros and cons. Many museums plan so far ahead that it could take years for your art to be showcased, digital spaces in this instance can be great for artists to bring attention to their work.”

– “Create a support system within your peer group, within different fields, they can be cultural mentors to you.”

– “Art being in the digital space has been to the great benefit for artists who don’t always have access to the official portals of art.”

– “When thinking about investing in art you need to do your research. First figure out what you like, go to museums and see what is for you. For example, do you like abstract art? Do you like art with a lot of texture? To live with art, you want to be around something that inspires you and provokes you.”

– “One of the amazing things about collecting contemporary art is that you get to know the artist. Knowing about the artist should also be criteria when investing in art pieces.”

– “You should only buy art from reputable sources to ensure that you are getting what you paid for.”

– “Follow artists that you like on social media and see their path, engage with them.”

She Hive NYC attendees learned that art is an investment in culture itself. If you want to be an agent for change in the distribution of African art, be involved in the art scene.

Sign up for a museum membership within your community.  Visit art exhibits whenever possible. There is strength in numbers, have your peers get involved. Let’s go out and support!

Advice from Vanessa De Luca, Editor-in-Chief, ESSENCE magazine on building a career in journalism

The profession of journalism has evolved over time, greatly propelled by social media platforms. From print to digital, the various mediums in which information is now presented to the world can be a little overwhelming for a novice who wants to make their mark within the industry.

At She Hive NYC 2016 Vanessa De Luca, Editor-in-Chief of ESSENCE Magazine, shared with us some of the important guidelines needed to build a career in journalism.

Here are some of the gems of information Vanessa shared.

Keep it short

In the age of technology many people have a very short attention span. You have to be masterful at telling a great story within a short time frame. Create content that shows your target audience that you understand them.

Be as direct in your message as you can possibly be. Keeping your content simple and authentic allows your target audience to connect with it.

Be Adaptable

Be very comfortable with adapting to constant change. See what type of content your target audience is engaged around and give them that. Take the time to learn what the “new thing” is and what will set you apart from everyone else.

You may go into work spaces where others who have been in the industry much longer than yourself may not understand how to use the newest technological platform that others are using to connect with core audiences.

By keeping on top of these various platforms, and showing them how it’s done, you can make yourself more of an asset to your team.

Know Your Audience

Use data metrics to measure your engagement, but do not solely rely on it. Let your connection to your audience guide you in making intuitive decisions.  Use data as a guide but also ask your audience what they would like to see.

Engage on Social Media

If you are looking  for a job as a social media manager but your personal social media page has only 25 followers, employers are not likely to take you very seriously.

If you are not engaged on your own personal social media platforms, how can someone trust that you will be engaging on theirs? When branding your business you can’t hide in the background. You must have a presence, know what you stand for and what you don’t.

You must humanize your brand; people want to know who you are and they want to connect with the pieces of you that resonate with them. You have to tell a story; people want to know how what you do changes the lives of the people that you serve. Telling the story of how you built your business for example, this allows others to be inspired by your journey.

Asmau Ahmad, Plum Perfect CEO: Lessons on building a business in tech

asmau ahmed tech business

The She Hive made its way to NYC and it held no punches! Guest speaker Asmau Ahmad, CEO and founder of Plum Perfect, showed us that building a business in tech requires strategy, confidence and persistence. Trained as a chemical engineer, Asmau understands the importance of being both precise and thorough. Asmau’s Plum Perfect is a mobile technology that allows the user to submit a photo selfie, it then analyzes the content of that photo to recommend makeup products that work for your complexion.

During She Hive NYC 2016, Asmau shared with us how she navigated her path within the tech industry.

Here are some lessons we can take away from Asmau’s journey.

Be flexible

Your ability to stay alive as a startup is directly correlated to your ability to pivot quickly. This means that you need to learn what is moving very quickly and move directions. Do not get too emotionally invested in something that clearly isn’t working.

If you have been working on something that needs to be revamped, just make the necessary changes. You can either grow fast or die slowly, the choice is yours. If your startup does not have the funds to market itself, partner with bigger brands and let them do the marketing.

Data is king

Use data tracking tools that allow you to see how your users interact with your technology, Google Analytics and Mixpanel are some resources Asmau suggested. Listen to your users, read all of their reviews and make adjustments accordingly.

Your most enthusiastic customers and your most angry customers will be the ones who give the most feedback. Feed off the energy of your most enthusiastic customers and give them what they want.

Conversely, solve the problem of the angry customers and give them what they want too. You want to get to a happy zone with as many customers as possible.

Reach out to investors

Asmau said that she focused on mostly women-led investors to help push Plum Perfect forward. It’s important that you find investors that fall in line with your business interests. Choose one revenue model that you want to focus on, state what you want clearly and simply.

Investors need to know that you are well informed about the product you’re pitching. Know your numbers when presenting, what has been your ROI thus far? How much do you need to carry out your next endeavor? Get investors who not only give money but also invest time into your project.

Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you. You do not always want to be the one with the best ideas in the room.

There are some instances where an investor will not take you seriously unless you have an MBA degree, it is validating for them. Asmau’s takeaway is that business school is not mandatory for running a successful business. If you have a viable business model and can think logically you can run a business.