What is your professional title, purpose or passion?
Outside of my day job (I’m a Management Consultant for a Big 4 Firm), I’m a Mumpreneur, running Colour Celebrations, a luxury gifting company specialising in gifts for babies of colour. My passion and the raison d’être for the business is to highlight and share the diverse, colourful variety of milestones which are celebrated amongst many ethnically diverse households. The idea was birthed after I gave birth to my son and realised that there were no tools to help me celebrate and share his developmental and cultural key moments, so I decided to do something about it and create my own.
What did you want to do when you were a child and what changed?
Funny enough, when I was a child I wanted to be a Barrister. I knew it was more fancy than a regular lawyer and we had a few lawyers in my family so thought it would be nice to follow suit and add a bit of glam and prestige to the role. Somewhere between primary and secondary school, I fell in love with modern languages and refocused my career aspirations on translation and international relations. By the time I finished university, it all went out of the window! And the appeal of city life and travel associated with management consulting soon stole my heart.
What's the best career advice you've ever been given?
Find a God-parent! Translated into business speak, this simply means find a sponsor. A good friend of mine gave me this advice early on. When I first started working, I never understood why some people got ahead even when others were clearly more talented or worked harder. Over the years I have discovered that hard work and delivery is necessary, it goes without saying. However in order to progress and access favour, you need a sponsor or advocate that will be willing to support and lobby on your behalf, especially in environments where you can’t do it for yourself. When I found a sponsor, I saw the difference in how my career and professional development progressed, through my sponsor’s dedicated time and desire to see me do well. I have since tried to pay it forward both personally and professionally.
What is the best thing about your current working environment?
Currently, as we are in lockdown it has been a bit of a crazy working environment with everyone home and very little boundaries! But I love being able to find flexible ways of working, oftentimes doing meetings and interviews whilst balancing a baby on my knee or breastfeeding at the same time. I also love the fact that my children get a first-hand view of what Mummy does, which hopefully will create strong, positive memories of women working hard and succeeding.
Where do you see yourself in five years' time?
I would love Colour Celebrations to develop into a globally recognised brand, giving me the outlet to explore and create even more amazing products, services and experiences to celebrate the beautiful melting pot of culture and heritage.
Tell us more about a charitable organisation or project you think is great.
I think Concern Worldwide is a great organisation, delivering life-saving and life-changing interventions to some of the world's poorest and most vulnerable people. They do this through creative and impactful campaigns, whilst always giving the spotlight to those they are helping. I love them so much, I ran the London Marathon for them in 2016 and raised over £2,000!
What drives you?
My faith and family is my anchors. I am a Christian and love Jesus! I am also big on family. I love seeing them smile and I want to create a legacy for my children that they can be proud of. I also drive myself, because for so long I suffered from imposter syndrome. The success I have achieved continues to show me that I am worthy and am capable of being a bad ass(!), breaking down barriers and ascending to dizzying heights of success. If I believe it, I can achieve it.
Any final comments?
For anyone wondering whether they should start a business, I say just go for it! Do it afraid, but just do it anyway! You’ll never know until you try and likelihood is you’ve already amassed a wealth of knowledge, experience and passion to get you going.
What does a normal day look like for you?
Now I’m on maternity leave (I have a 4 month old baby) and we’re on lockdown, each day is always different! I usually wake up around 6:30am, spend some time reading my devotional and having intentional thoughts about how I want the day ahead to go. I’ll usually, check my phone briefly and respond to urgent messages before my daughter and son wake up and I attend to them. Due to the lockdown, we’re also a lot looser on our routine, but we will typically have breakfast around 8:30 before the day begins. Daily activities usually involve some fun learning by play activities, Disney +, meetings and a daily walk. I try to double up as much as I can so for example, I might make my daily walk a trip to the post office and back. As a family, we have definitely bonded during this period, it’s created a family bond, so we try to do as much as we can together. At 5:30pm, we partake in a daily zoom workout, the kids, my husband and I, before dinner at 6pm. I usually meal prep or plan ahead, so dinner is usually ready at this time, having started it earlier in the afternoon. Bedtime routines start at 7pm and hopefully by 8:30pm all kids are in bed and sleeping leaving the evening free for zoom meetings, Netflix and a cheeky glass of wine. Ordinarily, I try to keep evenings free to hang out with my husband and on most nights this is possible. But as the pandemic has thrown everything up on its head, I do use some nights to catch up on Colour Celebrations work, prep, admin, meetings as I’m not as available to do so during the day. It’s a fine balancing act, but we try and get a little better with each day.
What have you achieved that you feel most proud of?
Gosh, if I had to choose one thing, it would be becoming the Mummy that I am. I’m not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but feel so honoured and blessed to be a mummy to my little boy and baby girl. Parenthood has helped me develop so much – becoming a super multi-tasker, developing martyr-like patience, humility beyond belief and birthing a passion which has led to a highly acclaimed business are all attributes which I wouldn’t have achieved without becoming a Mum. And I am so proud of that. I am proud of who I am now and the person I continue to evolve into.
In addition, I am proud to have been a finalist at the 2019 Black British Business Awards in the Consumer & Luxury Category. Having made it past hundreds of amazing businessmen and women, I was selected through my hard work and delivery, proving that what I was doing mattered and was actually good enough. It made my imposter syndrome, which had plagued me for so long, take a firm back seat!
Tell us about a a woman who inspires you
My mother is my inspiration. She raised my sister and me as a single parent and even though the odds were stacked against her, she did a great job, sending us to fantastic schools to get a first class education, provided emotional and financial stability and the right level of African-influenced discipline. I believe this helped me grow into a (somewhat) well balanced, decent human being with a zest for life and empirical evidence that you can do and achieve anything you put your mind to. She also managed different businesses over the years which whet my appetite for the entrepreneurial life. Till today, she remains my close confidante and advocate.
What was your biggest failure?
I don’t think I’ve had one single big fat failure, but instead a number of mini-throw-in-the-bin-moments including not researching a product enough before launching and not preparing adequately before a pitch. But each moment of failure is also a learning opportunity and I am a big believer of failing fast, not dwelling on money lost or opportunities which have slipped, but instead taking the lesson learnt forward and applying it to my situation to come back bigger and better.
What do you like most about yourself?
I love my personality! I love connecting with people and building genuine relationships. I like my optimistic outlook on life which has helped pick me up many a time. I also love how ambitious and creative I am. Sometimes it scares me, but I’ve decided to just go for it, do it afraid and if I fail, FAIL FAST! The learnings can be taken and applied to whatever my next creative outlet is.
How can we make the world more inclusive and accepting?
I believe raising awareness of the beauty in our diversity is a huge first step. Rather than being scared by our differences, it’s important to highlight their benefits show why these differences are to be celebrated. That is my mission with Colour Celebrations. By creating products that celebrate babies’ development and uniqueness right from the day they’re born, we are (i) coming together as a community, irrespective of background, to admire and celebrate the newborn (because everyone loves a new baby!), (ii) educating people on cultural traditions in an approachable and inclusive way and (iii) raising the next generation to be proud of themselves, their hue, make up and background, whilst creating an awareness and appreciation for those who are different.
What skills have been key to your journey so far?
I think tenacity and problem solving have been assets in my entrepreneurial journey. A lot of this has been built through my professional career and role as a parent. When faced with a problem, I’ve learnt to stay calm and look for creative ways to identify the root cause and a solution and keep going until I fix the issue.