AIN’T I A WOMAN

On May 29, 1851, Sojourner Truth, a woman born into, but later freed from slavery gave this speech at the Women’s Convention.

‘Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that ‘twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what’s all this here talking about?

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman?

Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman?

I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?

Then they talk about this thing in the head; what’s this they call it? [member of audience whispers, “intellect”] That’s it, honey. What’s that got to do with women’s rights or negroes’ rights? If my cup won’t hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn’t you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?

Then that little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.

Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain’t got nothing more to say.’

To be black, to be a woman, to have been born into slavery, to have been recently freed from slavery, to become a prominent anti slavery speaker and consequently ‘a women’s rights activist’, all in that era, was and is nothing short of extraordinary.

6 LESSONS FROM ‘LEAVE YOUR MARK’ BY ALIZA LICHT

Another great  read in the bag. Yaay! Reading ‘Leave your Mark’ by Aliza Licht felt like getting through different episodes of a girly series. Toward’s the end of the book, Aliza Licht does let on that her successful social media formula as DKNY Girl on twitter was inspired by the famous series, ‘Gossip Girl’ but thats not why the book gives off that vibe! The book is packed with a mixture of narrations of her own past experiences. She starts off by discovering that she is going in a completely different direction (plastic surgery) from her actual passion(fashion) and then starts to navigate her way back. This book is basically about ‘how she built her own ladder where there was no obvious path. Its packed with real life scenarios of devious colleagues, mean bosses and a whole lot of accessories organising. Lol. Oh, yes! She paid her dues and learned many lessons along the way.

Here’s what we can learn..

Professionalism is not dead. In today’s world, various avenues like social media mean people in high places are easily accessible but that does not mean you can approach them in a cavalier manner. Short handed messages like, ‘Hey, can u talk’, will get you nowhere. Neither will a phone call from mum, despite her being the connection. She also covers a lot of ground on professional etiquette, like cover letters and  ‘thank you’ emails after interviews. For some professions that goes without saying but having read some of the scenarios she has seen in the Fashion and PR world, this subject is worth the time. Calculated touches of professionalism can make you the most memorable crab and get you out of the barrel.

Timing in career is key. Treading that fine line ‘between paying your dues and moving on in time before sh*t hits the fan’ can be difficult. Whether you are looking for a promotion or a pay rise, gauging contribution versus returns can be tricky.  We have all heard of that scenario where the boss shows the colleague that their contribution is not worth progression and verging on replaceable, but unfortunately  the colleague chooses to carry on as if the amber light has not been flashing for a while. At the sign of a red light you must begin to explore other routes. If you feel you are reading the signs wrong, seek out a confidant to help you understand the signs otherwise you risk stagnation or worse, the chopping block! Its important to gauge whether you are ‘paying your dues’ or wasting valuable time. 

Build your portfolio even in your current role. Keep a record of your contributions to the business environment and goals. This will help you negotiate pay rises, new positions or even more responsibility in your current role. Understanding what is above and beyond and what is your actual role is very important to that list. Your boss may look at you funny for asking for a pay rise for doing what your paid to do well.  When it comes to this record think above and beyond! The point of your record is to give you confidence and assurance of your growth and contribution and help you understand your next direction.

Navigate office politics carefully. ‘At the end of the day, business is about human nature more than it will ever be about business’. Well said Aliza. Lets be honest, sometimes a work place can became a playground. Bosses mark territory, people become teams and gossip does the rounds. There will always be those characters that get things going and try to get you involved. Don’t add to, or stir the pot. Be careful where you place your feet in these scenarios.

Do not get caught out on social media. Social media can be a serious deal breaker in more ways than one. You may tick all a recruiter’s boxes until he/she decides to skim through your profile. Other faux pas include sending your boss a friend’s request, tagging the company profile in drunken posts, etc. These things can be hard to gauge so your better off safe than sorry by following some unsaid rules. Think before you post. Let your boss take the lead with befriending you on social media. Think of your social media as your personal brand and post accordingly. She goes into detail on the content for your bio, what do you want to be known for, finding your voice on social media and so much more. 

The higher you go the cooler you should become. The last few chapter focus very much on lessons for leaders. Firstly, should you go on to rise in your career, help others up. Having worked her way up through Haute and Atelier to DKNY, Aliza credits key people for nurturing her and giving her the opportunity to grow. But for every person that nurtured her, there was one that sought to stifle her or misread her determination as intimidation. Don’t be that person. As a leader, nurture people who are looking to grow. Secondly, if you are to lead, you must work on your network and networking skills such as learning  to work a room with grace, conversational skills, maintaining professional relationships, etc. Thirdly, you must learn the ropes surrounding your own. While working as an accessories assistant, she learned the art of public relations which afforded her the next step on the ladder at DKNY.

The book is written through the eyes of a PR specialist which offers refreshing insight. It shows one the balance between pushing and pulling in career and ‘the business of people’. To me, this is also a great book on emotional intelligence. People are the most complex matter in the world, and yet we cannot do anything worthwhile without them. If I was Aliza, I might have named the book. ‘How to act accordingly 101’. Haha.

In a nutshell, if you must progress you must calculate….

6 LESSONS FROM ‘HOW TO BE AN OVERNIGHT SUCCESS’ BY MARIA HATZISTEFANIS

I just recently completed  ‘Mrs Rodial’s’ book, and  have to say it is riddled with practical gems on business! Maria Hatzistefanis, the brains and beauty behind the Kardashian/Jenner favourite skin care brand, Rodial,  gives a detailed account of what happens behind the scenes of a successful skincare brand and how she has managed to navigate her way into glamorous magazines, and high-end departments stores. How to be an overnight success is an easy read and she comes across as a very hands on business woman  and personable person. In fact the book is almost like a mini map because she offers her formulas to the reader for example there’s quite a bit on how to collaborate with other brands, how to land into a celebrities make-up bag, building your professional/brand presence on social media etc.

Here’s six key lessons for female bosses…

  1. There’s no such thing as an overnight success.  The successful Rodial brand we see today is as a result of a good 19 years of work! Oh, yes. This makes her a much needed voice for today’s female entrepreneur whose most touted business models are House of CB, or Kylie’s Lip kits.  Obviously, the latter brands have exploded in  a social media generation but many businesses will not automatically explode in the same manner and fashion. She started her brand in 1999, with £20,0000, used Starbucks as her first office and  from there began a steady and upward construction of the brand.
  2. Not all that glitters is gold. She mentions shunning external investment, which had been an option right from the early days, choosing instead to be fuelled by her vision and passion for the brand and a tight budget. She mentions this throughout the book. The absence of big budgets created scenarios were they have had to think outside the box to get things done. When she could not afford to hire a personal assistant, she often had to pretend to be both herself and a personal assistant, voice changes and everything! 
  3. Celebrity endorsement is not the be -all and end- all of a successful beauty brand. The products firstly made their way into celebrity hands before the celebrity collaborations happened, which speaks volumes for the product! She mentions collaborations with Kylie Jenner and Daisy Lowe did help multiply exposure but she uses other unique ideas to build her brand like exciting product names, beauty awards and collaborations with other designers that she felt shared the similar identities of the target customer or complemented the brand, in the process building industry relationships and other useful connections. 
  4. You are your biggest walking advertisement, on and off court! Of course that’s a no brainer coming from a beauty industry entrepreneur but the lesson here is  your presentation of self has to be consistent with what you are selling as the current market is not just buying your product but they are also buying into you. She mentions building a personal presence/Instagram page outside the brand that was more personable and relatable but still not far off from the Rodial brand identity. There she show cases her fashion sense, social events, commentary on other beauty trends, etc, and therefore offering her followers a 360 perspective of her life as a beauty industry business woman. All this directly translates into a bigger following for the Rodial brand. This is so true! Today people want to see and hear from brand owners and the best of the best are very active on some form of social media! I mean the other day Jeff Bezos ‘tweeted an instagram photo’, making pancakes for Russell Wilson and Ciara. What in the world does that have to do with Amazon?
  5. Take care of every aspect of your being. (Physical, mental and emotional). Maria shares how she makes it a point to stay motivated and in shape, saying gym classes and inspirational quotes are part of that formula.
  6. The path to success is a winding road paved with challenges, risks and often detours. Having moved from Greece to complete a Master’s in Business Administration in New York, she surprised  herself by getting a well paying corporate banking job in London. With time, and the reality of a corporate banking job she lost motivation and ended up being fired. And thus, an entrepreneur was born…

I think the book is a great read for today’s female entrepreneur. Here’s a woman who’s been carefully crafting a brand for nineteen years and has achieved a great balance between a healthy amount of personal exposure and a successful brand. I read GirlBoss by Sophia Amoruso (founder of Nasty Gal) in the summer last year and the tone is completely different. Maria’s moves seem more thought out and calculated compared to Sophia’s which felt more serendipitous. Both interesting reads but completely different formulas.

In a nutshell, your good thing may take time…

HARRY AND MEGHAN’S ROYAL WEDDING ROUND-UP PLUS FASHION FAVOURITES

I have to say I surprised myself when I mistook the day of the royal wedding to be today, Sunday, instead of yesterday, as I have been sort of keeping up with ‘MegMeg and Harry’. Never the less, I managed to be perched in time for her arrival at the altar.

The day I saw Meghan’s mother Doria in dreadlocks, Meghan suddenly meant a bit more to me. Haha! In my mind it was a quick nod to not only the black community but the natural hair community. People and various fashion critics tend to think this kind of hairstyle is dirty, or unprofessional looking, etc. Well she has been welcomed into the most photographed family in the world! Take that! Meghan Markle is refreshing in so many ways but this was one of my  personal little ‘refreshments’. 

I didn’t mind following along up until their big day because to me, they represent a different kind of celebrity. If we are going to have celebrities in this world, lets have Harry and Meghan right in there. Lol. Yes a bit of drama did threaten to thwart their big day but which family does not have drama? At least the happy couple were not feeding it or airing it out for the right price. They tend to be out and about supporting various causes and not the latest in fashion and beauty trends. They sort of just are and are not trying to be.

Now onto the big day…

Can we just give a quick shout out to the prince and his display of varied emotion! Okayyyyyy?! I don’t remember Prince William being as giddy or teary.

The dress, elegant as it was, was reminiscent of a much older bride. That’s immediately what came to mind. It was something that immediately didn’t impress but one that we would later come to appreciate. Some have dubbed it timeless and classic and I do have to concede. I suppose statements are not always about fashion sense, they can be about where we are at a certain point in our lives! A wedding dress is the most personal thing to a bride and her biggest expression and Meghan’s choice did speak volumes! Aside from fashion, to me, it reflected the gracious, calming and mature effect they say she has over her prince. I also think that perhaps the fact that this was not her first time down the isle, played a role in her choice. Older and wiser, more confident about life….

The make-up, I absolutely loved. I am always going to be a fun of a subtle natural look! That will aways be the definition of ‘flawless’ to me. Not the latest in highlight and shimmer, but a warm natural face. I am yet to see one bad facial picture of this beautiful woman! Her face truly is a photographer/magazine’s dream. 

By the end of that church service it was clear who would wear the pants in the marriage! Am dubbing that service ‘The takeover’! Lol. The mere fact that she was visibly able to incorporate so much of her touch to the service was nothing short of amazing. We have to realise it can be intimidating to go up against centuries of tradition and she could have easily just fallen in line and stopped at the mother wearing dreadlocks and being 1/4 black. Instead she brought the vibrant black preacher, and what preacher is complete without his entourage, an all black choir!! Yes Meghan, took us to church!

What more can I say except, congratulations to Harry and Meghan, it all came together like a classic!

And lastly I leave with my top 10 looks of the  entire day….

1. The bride and groom heading for their evening reception. Royal glamour! Enough said!

2. David Beckham in his perfect fit. Victoria framing him quite nicely, wouldn’t you agree?! I don’t feel quite ready to  forgive one of my favourite fashion icons for coming to yet  another spring royal wedding in the exact dark colour as she did the last one!  We are not having it Aunty Vicky!

3. Carey Mulligan for a flirty and printed classic.

4. Lady Kitty Spencer for bringing print and colour in a British quintessential cut! Yes girl! Do it for Diana!

5. Sofia Wellesley, Jame’s Blunt’s wife for this printed perfection!

6. Oprah Winfrey for this pink and pretty Hollywood interpretation of British style.

7. Kate Middleton and my favourite little royal. If this look feels like deja vu, its because she has worn this twice/thrice before.  Nothing short of confidence for this act of repetition in an elegant and timeless McQueen piece. I do think her and Meghan are two peas in a pod and probably agreed this theme for each other over tea and warm biscuits. Sisters- in- law power! Bring it!

8. Tom Hardy’s wife, Charlotte. I mean there’s little wrong you can do when you go with prints!

9. Gina Torres. Just yes!

US actress Gina Torres arrives for the wedding ceremony of Britain’s Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and US actress Meghan Markle at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, in Windsor, on May 19, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Ian WestIAN WEST/AFP/Getty Images

10. This gorgeous duet! Giving us both block colour and print all in one stylish arrival!

That’s all folks. Cast your votes. What were your favourite looks? Comment, subscribe.

Have a great week.