Lungiswa Moore: Women of colour need a positive community

lungiswa moore mygirlsquad community
Community, sisterhood, friendship, marriage…these are all important topics for women of colour. Zimbabwe-born, US based Lungiswa Moore started her lifestlye and community website #mygirlsquad to foster positive connections online. Sisterhood is important and so is family and community but there are right ways to doing business with people you care about. Lungiswa share her tips on that and more.

How did #mygirlsquad come about?
#mygirlsquad is inspired by women of colour. We are strong, diverse and beautiful but this isn’t shown enough in the media and in our daily lives. Women of colour are grossly underrepresented. I wanted to create a platform to show the positive in women of colour, not just as individuals but as a collective and a community.

There’s not enough being told about the growing positive trend of amazing women of colour breaking boundaries and collaborating on great things to uplift their community. We’re happy, loving and ambitious – that should be the narrative.

What challenges have you encountered in the past with your business?

The biggest trial for me was actually having faith in myself. Tackling self-doubt and steering with faith alone is a very lonely road. There have been many times I’ve been awakened from sleep by my fear of failure. It has made me procrastinate on deadlines and even made me lose opportunities because I felt that I wasn’t the person for it.

As an entrepreneur, I feel that even if you’re running a one-man show, many things can go wrong in one day. However, if you allow your self-doubt and fears to overpower your faith and ambition to get through the day, you have already sunk your ship. Fear is inevitable. It’s a natural reaction when you’re faced with something unknown. Just don’t let it turn into doubt. When I start to get doubtful I always surround myself with affirmations. If you don’t have anyone in your life who can give you affirmations, you have to create them yourself. You need constant reassurance that you can do what you set yourself up to do.

As someone who has worked with friends, is there a right and wrong way to it?
From my experience there is. I’ve worked with many friends before and even with my husband. You have to first understand what your friend’s strengths and weaknesses are. It’s all fun and great when brainstorming ideas get flowing and there’s excitement about launching something together. But knowing your friend as a friend, and knowing your friend in business is different.

Your friend may have your back when it comes to personal issues, but when you start dealing with money, things become different. So understanding their strengths and weaknesses puts you both in a better position to work cohesively in things that best fit each other. Some tips from me

  • Always have a contract – this protects you both in case things go south.
  • Communicate. A lot of misunderstandings can lead to bigger issues if they are unresolved. Conflict can carry into your friendship and things can go very sour very quickly if not resolved.
  • Most importantly try to make time for your friendship. Sometimes, you become engrossed in the business side that the friendship gets lost. Remembering that you were friends before getting into business will go a long way.

mygirlsquad

You mentioned working with your husband, how can young African women balance marriage with working with their partners?
As an African woman, I found this a challenge when I started. I, along with many other women, have been raised to always put your husband first in your marriage. While that works within a marriage, it doesn’t always work that way in business. You sometimes have to go with your gut or put your husband last sometimes. In any business relationship, there will always be a difference in opinion one time or another, and when that happens – you have to deal with that pragmatically.

I’m a passionate individual and I tend to have strong opinions. In instances where my husband would disagree with me, I would not only argue my point in a meeting but I’d find myself randomly arguing the same point while we’re watching our favorite show. That’s crazy! Knowing when to turn that business switch off is important, especially when working with your spouse. In a 9 to 5 it’s easy to come home after a hard day and vent to your spouse about your annoying co-worker or boss, but when you work together and the annoying co-worker is your spouse – it gets tricky. So, leaving business at the office and keeping the marriage at home is the best way to balance it.

Why is sisterhood important?
I’ve always believed in the power of numbers. No man is an island and you never succeed alone. As a woman of colour – why would you want to be alone, when you can be so much more as a collective? Collaborating with like-minded individuals, who share the same social and economical issues as you, in order to achieve something should be something sought after. We have a long way to go as women of colour – gender inequality, domestic violence, social and economic issues stunt our growth, yet we are the fastest growing demographic in several industries that include business and education. Imagine if we pulled all our resources together?


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The 5 types of friends every woman needs in her late 20s and early 30s

an african city friends

“True friends are like diamonds—bright, beautiful, valuable and always in style.”

– Nicole Ritchie

Coming of age and navigating the tumultuous waters of adulthood, I was a big fan of the TV show “Sex and the city” as my friends and I looked to the show for advice on how to model our lives in a way that was fashionable and fun. As I grew older, I realized that there was another important “f factor” I needed to be on the lookout for when choosing friends, fulfillment.  There comes a point in every young woman’s life, for me it hit in my late 20s as the dreaded 3-0 loomed closer, where you realize that it is time to put aside childish thoughts and ways and begin to think seriously about laying a stable foundation for your 30s and working towards the manifestation of that.

In the last decade I have lived in 5 cities in 3 different countries. I have been a student, a traveler, a freelancer and full-time employee. I have gained, and lost, more than my fair share of acquaintances, kindred spirits, fair-weather and lifelong friends. The more I think about the different periods of my life and the people who were present during those times, the more I realize the great, and lasting,  impact these people have had on my life. The ones that stand out in my mind and the ones whose friendships I still cherish are the ones who were with me laughing, crying, cursing, loving, losing and believing with me all the way.

When I first watched the hit web TV series “An African City”, beyond the glamorous lives of these returnees, what struck me was the strong bond of friendship that existed between these 5 women, individually and collectively. Perhaps, wrapped in each of An African City’s complex character are a few lessons we could all learn about the types of friends every modern African woman needs to successfully navigate her late 20s and early 30s.

The Lifer/Memory Keeper

“An African City” is told from the viewpoint of NanaYa, who returns to Ghana with her parents after spending most of her life in America. We learn about the other characters through NanaYa’s insightful observations and it is clear that she is the glue that holds the group together. Every girl needs friends who can tell you the who/what/where/why of most of your major life moments, possibly because she has lived through most of them with you. The Lifer friend is someone who has been there with you through thick and thin and is not going anywhere, ever. You may choose different paths in life and there may come a time when you will be separated by distance and other relationships and commitments, but this is the friend that would drop everything to be by your side if you ever needed her. She will be the godmother of your children and the adopted daughter of your parents, she will be the one sitting next to you on a porch 50 years from now reminiscing about life and all the joy, sorrow, triumphs and failures it brought you both. Cherish the Lifers and Memory Keepers you have in your life.

The Hustler

The Hustler is portrayed by Zainab who moved to Ghana to start her own natural hair product business. She pours all her time and energy into making her business successful. Even through the trying times, Zainab always manages to keep her head above the water and proves that she deserves every bit of the success she has achieved. Every girl needs that Hustler chick among her circle of friends who is killing it professionally. Not only will she inspire you to aspire to greater heights, she is a fountain continuously springing forth invaluable advice on the dos and don’ts of navigating the business world. Your Hustler friend will have contacts and resources that you can tap into and before you know it, you might become the Hustler in your group as well.

_mgl1713_wide-16b39b505429f67d404daefba78df5598988f424The Uplifter

The sheer amount of change you will experience in your late 20s and early 30s is enough to leave anyone dazed and confused wondering why up is down and down is up and just how in God’s name you are supposed to make sense of it all. When I was about 25, I remember feeling like someone had pulled the rug out from under me. I was expected to graduate with honors, find a great, well-paying job, move into a nice, furnished apartment. Add to that I was to work long hours and still be out on the town every weekend having a good time, then get married, have a few babies all the while remaining a successful career woman. If it wasn’t for the grace of God, family and uplifting friends I would have gone crazy a long time ago. In “An African City”, Ngozi is the Uplifter, that one friend that you can always count on for an encouraging word when times are rough, the friend who not only listens attentively but also supports all your hopes and dreams, even the crazy, impractical ones. The Uplifter’s favorite word is “yes”. Sometimes it seems like the world is screaming no to all your efforts and that you are constantly being met with closed doors. When you’re just about ready to throw in the towel, it is refreshing to have that one voice that always says “”Yes, I believe in you”, “Yes, you can do it.”

The No BS’er

Say what you will about Sade’s character but she is actually my favorite character. While she appears to have many vices, Sade is the one character in the group who is always willing to call a spade a spade. And I believe every girl needs friends who will always tell them the truth, even when it hurts. Often, to keep the peace, girls avoid telling each other the ugly or painful truth. In the worst case scenarios, rather than telling the truth to the one in question, we tell it behind their backs and by the time the truth finally comes to light, it causes even more pain and drama than it would have we had been straightforward from the beginning. Here’s where the No BS’er comes in. While it may feel like the No BS’er friend’s sole purpose in life is to burst or bruise your ego, with time you realize that they’re not trying to be rude or malicious and it is all coming from a place of love. By always keeping it real, the No BS’er helps you to see a different perspective and encourages you to keep growing and changing. Isn’t that what life should be all about?

The Unlikely Friend

Now Makena’s character was a little harder to pin down into one type. She is a delightful medley of so many types: the social butterfly who seems to know where you can get just about anything at any point in time, the risk taker who left a high paying job in London to return to Ghana, the bad influence with a smoking habit and questionable taste in men. All of these combine to make Makena the Unlikely Friend of the group. One of my favorite authors, Anais Nin, has a quote that I absolutely love. It says, “Each friend represents a world in us, a world not possibly born until they arrive”. Whether it is choosing a girlfriend with a different nationality, culture, background, interests or life views, having that Unlikely Friend will only serve to expand your worldview and enrich your life in ways you could never have possibly imagined.

Are you a fan of “An African City” and could you spot any other friend types that we might have omitted from this list? What type of friend are you in your group of friends? Join the conversation and let us know what your thoughts are in the comments below.

#SisterhoodGoals: 2 things to learn from Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira

Lupita and Danai

Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira are history makers individually and now, collectively. Eclipsed, the play Danai wrote and Lupita stars in, is the first Broadway production that has a female playwright, a female director, and an all-female cast. The play which premiered last week has received incredible reviews, and we, of course, expected nothing less from these powerhouses.

Here are 2 things we learned about sisterhood, friendship, and business from these Motherland Moguls.

Keep your promises, even if it takes a couple of years

When Lupita arrived at Yale, the first role she was assigned to was to be an understudy in Eclipsed (written by Danai). From then on Lupita promised herself that she would one day do this play. She even mentioned the play in her first Vogue cover story and after a run at the Public Theater in 2015, Lupita emailed Danai and told her “Let’s do Eclipsed” and the rest is history.

Have you promised to take a look at your friends resume or give feedback on a new purse design? Stop procrastinating and follow through on your commitment. As friends and sisters, we need to lend each other a helping hand.

Your passion can inspire others

In Variety magazine Danai stated It’s very clear to me what my drive is. I tell African women’s stories. It doesn’t mean I don’t do other things, but that’s my thing. It’s rooted in a passion for that, and it’s rooted in a rage because I feel that they are so under- and misrepresented. I’m trying to link these two places, and have Africa be seen by the West in a more multidimensional, complex and celebratory way.”

Lupita and Danai - 2For Lupita, when she was deciding where to go to drama school, she was nervous about only doing work that focused on the Eurocentric point of view. When she arrived in the States from Kenya, she was so grateful that the first play she received was written by an African woman and focused on powerful female characters.

Danai followed her passion and created a play that has given other young African women the opportunity to shine. Lupita was inspired and motivated by the play at the beginning of her professional acting career. How many other young, African women have been inspired by Lupita’s acting and activism all across the globe?

Are you genuinely following your passions or you just managing with what you can do? You never know the impact your business idea, non-profit or role in a company can have on others. By following your passion, you can inspire and motivate others to achieve their goals. 

It can be easy to lose yourself on the journey to success. Sisterhood can challenge us to become better versions of ourselves and help us remember what is truly important. Sisterhood in our communities connects all of us like a spider web. If one part of the web tears we all feel it. Think about what we could collectively accomplish if we all kept our promises and helped motivate others like Lupita and Danai.