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Thursday, May 10, 2018

African Women Build: Why black millenial mompreneurs are heading to Washington DC on May 19th

When we received the email from District Motherhued founders Nikki and Simona, we were already excited then. However, little did they know that WCA has been huge fans of their work, and to our joy both founders were just as much fans of WCA! As mother's day approaches, we caught up with Nikki Osei-Barrett and Simona Noce CEO's of District motherhood and creators of the first ever Momference. The mom's met online and yet their relationship seems like one that has existed for a long time. So a bit about both Founders: 

About the Founders

 Nikki Osei is a fashion, beauty and lifestyle publicist hailing from the DMV. After graduating from Bowie State University with a degree in Mass Communications, she relocated to New York City where she interned for several prestigious fashion PR firms, freelanced and assisted in producing Mercedes Benz Fashion Week shows. During her agency stints, she worked alongside many brands including Custo Barcelona, Sachin + Babi, Chinese Laundry, Benefit Cosmetics, Shopstyle and E! TV. In 2011, Nikki founded Osei Public Relations, a boutique agency which provides strategic outreach and publicity, event management and celebrity seeding services to emerging brands and in 2016 pursued Osei PR full time.  Nikki currently directs publicity for various domestic and international fashion, beauty and lifestyle brands. Nikki is also the co-creator of District Motherhued, Washington’s premier organization for millennial moms of color and The Momference - the premiere conference for magical, millennial moms of color. Despite becoming a mother at the age of 16, Nikki relentlessly pursued an unconventional career. She continues to grow and thrive professionally all while tending to her husband and 2 boys.  

Her business partner  Simona Noce is an accomplished Public Relations manager who has worked with some heavyweights, but her greatest achievement and her most important role is being a mom. Simona is skilled and dedicated public relations professional with an intense passion for media, entertainment, and the execution of creative ideas and special events. She is currently a full-time entrepreneur running The Noce Model, a  PR & marketing strategic firm, focused on creative, entertainment, lifestyle, and tech brands.  She is also the co-creator of District Motherhued, Washington’s premier organization for millennial moms of color and The Momference - the premiere conference for magical, millennial moms of color.
Simon and Niki founders of Momfrence

We start off the interview asking both women who happen to be Ghanian American what building their companies look like for them; 

 The women shared that  outside of their  respective businesses (Osei PR & The Noce Model), they have had the opportunity to work collectively to build District Motherhued. Founded in 2016, District Motherhued is Washington, D.C.'s premier organization for millennial moms of color. The event started out simply wanting to have a single event for local, black moms in the D.C. metropolitan and surrounding areas. The response to their first event "The Mom Loft" was amazing, and they state  "now, here we are over 15+ sold out events and 4000 moms later gearing up for our first large-scale conference. We're honestly awed by how things have organically grown and progressed. We've built our organization simply by maintaining a consistent, authentic, engaging social media voice and presence + hosting (quality) regular events."

 Their Ghanaian heritage plays a huge role in their business mindset and life outlook. The ladies share with us that "with us both being Ghanaian American, there's a sense of pride and excellence that we incorporate in all that we do. You know Ghanaians (Africans in general) are overachievers and that the expectations of children of the Diaspora are especially high. Couple that with us both having Public Relations & Events expertise, we try to always execute to the highest of our capabilities. And like most African children, our ultimate hope is that through our work and efforts we make our parents proud, especially as our initiatives are non-traditional. "

The Momference


Photocredit the Momference
What is so inspiring is the way both women have designed the Momference was that both founders saw a need for black mothers. They shared with WCA that "We've hosted several events since launching District Motherhued but we wanted to find a way to reach more women, as we typically can only accommodate 50-75 moms at a time. We researched the mom conference-sphere and noticed there are several conferences for moms but none that cater to US -  black, millennial moms. 

" In being conscious of diversity yet highlighting the intentionality of the conference, they share that their " intention is not to segregate; however, there are obvious differences, needs and issues that moms of varying ethnicities face. And because nothing like this existed, we  took it upon ourselves to create a space and event that we know moms like us are seeking."

In excitement we wanted to know what moms who will be attending should look forward to this amazing event. "There's SO much to look forward to at The Momference!" The event will have from amazing keynotes Instyle Magazine's Beauty-Editor-At-Large, Kahlana Barfield Brown and Essence Magazine's Fashion & Beauty Director, Julee Wilson, and top mom influencers and thought leaders from across the nation. The event will also feature  a Mommy Market where moms can shop brands made FUBU or with black women  in mind, pamper suite for women to relax and unwind, fabulous gift bags, and, most importantly, moms will experience unparalleled fellowship.

We talk about the highs and lows of producing the first ever Momfrence event, since this is such a trailblazing one of a kind event. The ladies share their excitement and contribute their success to the amazing businesses and brands that have supported them including:  ESSENCE, Whole Foods, Zenni Eyewear, BOZZUTO, The Root (and more) that took a chance on their  inaugural event and are aiding us in successful execution. The express the importance of community and the validation they receive from the moms that they serve. 

It is so beautiful to hear the women give reverence to God being at the center of their business and a driving force through life's challenges "We've honestly not faced many challenges as we've developed District Motherhued/The Momference and for that were SO grateful. But when the work is selfless, intent is genuine and God is at the core of it all, your mission will always thrive. Personally, we've both dealt with family issues, transitioned from full-time careers to mompreneurship and deal with the never ending struggle to find balance while juggling business, children, partners, etc. "

Having both women as  powerhouses who are stylish, focused women we asked the women who their favorite brands/women that inspire you currently and why they respond "Of course we're enamored with Kahlana Barfield Brown. Her style is effortless and flawlessly executed. Every single time. we also love Kelly Rowland, Sarah Jakes Roberts, etc. There are too many women to name. For brands, Cushnie et Ochs is classic, elegant, chic and bossy AF. We also love everything from New York & Co to Muehleder."

Simona  with her sons
                                       

We close the interview by inquiring from the women what does sisterhood mean to them and their work, as a core value of WCA we know it is one of their's as well.  

What is so special about the duo is that their chemistry feels as if they have known each other for a long time, however according to them they mention that "It's so funny we've only known each other for almost two years, yet when people see us together they assume we've known each other forever. Lol."

They emphasize the importance of support and partnership by tatting that they support each others endeavors, and champion the women around them by highlighting their accomplishments, businesses and families


Nikki with her sons

We end the interview by the Nikki and Simona sharing that "We truly believe our friendship is God-ordained, formed to not only make us better individually but also to show others that there's success in numbers and to dispel the myth that black women can't get along. Our friendship literally built a regional and national sisterhood. And that is the true power of collaboration"

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

3 Reasons to Build at the Build Pop up Power Brunch

As our build brunch Pop up Power Brunch approaches on June 20th, 2018 at the Swiss Spirit Hotel,  we thought it would be good to share with you why we believe building is important. The concept of The African Women Build Series we launched in 2016 is what propelled us to create offline communities for women entrepreneurs to gather, thus the Build Brunch was born. 


Identity: In order to attract the right clients, your brand needs to be credible as well as authentic. Your brand identity represents a critical part of your company, it is your brand's DNA. Your identity is what makes you different to stand out from your competitors. This workshop will help you key into what is your brand identity as well as how to sharpen various aspects of that identity through content as well as image branding.

Community: Building the right clientele base is important. The build brunch was curated with the audience in mind. Unlike large events that one goes to gains inspiration and possible new relationships but walks away feeling overwhelmed with what to do next, the build brunch not only helps you to identify and develop solutions for your business challenges, it also provides the space to build relationships with women entrepreneurs around the specific topic area. It also provides the space for you to receive peer to peer feedback in nurturing and enhancing your brand.


Opportunities: Branding is what helps companies, brands, and businesses position themselves for the appropriate opportunities that are accurate for their work. This workshop will help you figure out how to best position your brand as a global brand.


We hope to see you there! 




The Build Brunch is Held in Freetown Sierra Leone on June 20th, 2018. For ticket purchases email us at info@womenchangeafrica.com. The Build brunch is sponsored by www.wcacreatives.com our sister communications firm.




Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Here's Why you should own a Mode Observer Capsule Collection and more..

When Musu Kaikai went public about her new bespoke fashion brand, a subsidiary brand under her sister's well established Fashion Brand Madam Wokie, we were all ears and glistening from ear to ear. Why you may ask? We are huge fans of the young fashion enthusiast, Publicist, and humanitarian and seeing her produce apparel that mirrors what she wears and admires was a happy sight to witness. This Miriam Makeba's grace meets Tiwa Savage's creativity, topped with Ella Koblo Gulama's strength, her brand is all of this wrapped up in one. From her Gara (tye dye) Buba gowns, to her long silk dresses we are so excited about what the rest of the brand will unfold this year. 


Photocredit Mode Observer


According to Musu Kaikai; "MODE by Musu Kaikai will include clothing, apparel, jewellery and other accessories, mostly produced in Sierra Leone or sourced from my travels" Currently the brand is showcasing its Inaugural Capsule Collection, as well as beautiful hand picked  Masai Jewels from Kenya. 

Here are the  reasons you should be picking up a Mode Observe piece as soon as it hits the shelves:

Minimalist chic: The pieces have a simple, intricate and  feminine chic look that we love. Musu's use of color is spectacular, and the fabrics of choice are impeccable.


Photocredit Mode Observer


Female and African owned: Musu Kaikai is a Sierra Leonean entrepreneur who is U.K. based by way of Sierra Leone, she has served as the marketing and pr specialist to her sister's brand. 

Timeless pieces: We know 10-20 years from now you will wish you owned a Mode Observer piece. These pieces remind me of the pieces our African mother's had that we took for granted but salvaged a few. These pieces will be vintage and highly sought after.

Sisterhood: Musu's relationships with all of her sisters are goals. Watching their interactions online and offline is one that delights us and exemplifies the essence of what WCA stands for; love and sisterhood.


Mode by Musu Kaikai will be sold at Madam Wokie, 14 C Syke Street, Freetown, and online. For more on Mode Observer follow them here Mode Observer

Photocredit Mode Observer



Thursday, April 26, 2018

Sip Sop and Socialize a Women Mean Business event, Freetown Sierra Leone



 

Looking for a way to connect collaborate and support female entrepreneurs? Attend the Sip, Shop and Socialize hosted by Women Mean Business. The event will feature a Boss lady talks by various female entrepreneurs including Mary-And Kai Kai, Creative Director of Madam Wokie and others as well as cocktails, raffle prizes and more. Be sure to attend! 

For more on the event visit WMB's page here WMB Honors



Thursday, April 19, 2018

Eyitemi Popo's Girl Trip Tours helps millennial women explore Africa

We love a good travel experience focused on female empowerment, so when we  saw the amazing trip Eyitemi is curating with her partners we knew it deserved a feature. 


Girls Trip Tours helps millennial women confidently explore African destinations, while supporting local business women through commerce and empowering young girls through mentorship. Not only do they curate travel experiences that empower, but they are building an ecosystem of local and expatriate women who can host or guide female travelers exploring their locales. 

“Traveling alone as a woman anywhere in the world comes with its challenges and dangers. Africa is no exception. We want to help female travellers explore Africa on their own terms, and in exchange, leverage their expertise to impact the next generation of female leaders across the continent.”, says founder Eyitemi Popo.

 
Eyitemi Popo, Founder

The first Girls Trip Tour will take participants on an unforgettable adventure through Ghana, West Africa where they will explore Ghana’s tech hubs, patronize local business women, and of course take in all the awesome sites that Accra and the Cape Coast have to offer! An essential highlight of the experience will be the time spent mentoring young female coders from the Soronko Academy in Accra: West Africa’s first human-centered design school.
While the first trip is focused on tech, high ambition women from all fields are welcome. All those looking to travel to the continent in a meaningful, yet adventure-filled should check out their packages.

To help ensure the longevity of the Girls Trip Tours impact, Ayiba Magazine has already raised $2,000 toward a mentorship and advancement program for high potential African girls - starting with the 15 they will be mentoring at the coding academy in Ghana. 

Girls Trip is looking for interested travelers to join the experience June 30th - July 8th, 2018 in Ghana. They are also looking for women living in Accra to get involved with the mentorship program or sign up to their travel network where they can earn money for hosting or guiding solo travelers. 

For more information, head to www.girlstrip.tours and join the mailing list to stay up to date

You can also follow @GirlsTripTours on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/girlstriptours/

This project is led by Ayiba Magazine’s Eyitemi Popo, who has been featured in She Leads Africa, named a leading woman by BusinessDay, and is also Danone Paris ProgramEVE Influencer because of her work amplifying the African female voice in media. Eyitemi, together with her advisors - Candace Nkoth-Bisseck, who was #1 on Forbes 30 under 30 changemakers, Regina Honu, one of BBC's 100 Women in 2017, and Tania Habimana, a serial entrepreneur who recently launched a Standard Bank backed fashion accelerator in South Africa - want to leverage their networks to advance the African female agenda through travel, entrepreneurship, and mentorship.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

WCA Presents Build Brunch Freetown: A Pop up Power Brunch Series


To Launch our African  Women Build Series for 2018 we launch the Build Pop up Power Brunch Series! We are so excited for this first experience which will be held in Freetown Sierra Leone. Here are a few details about our  upcoming event.

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What is the Build Brunch?


Build Pop up Power Brunch is a 2-hour intensive intimate masterclass  held with 10 selected women focusing on various topic areas of need meant to help women in the start- up years of their business grow and enhance the services of their business. This is a hands on, concrete workshop with experts who will help you enhance and develop your business, personal brand, career or organisation.

Who is behind the Build Brunch?

 The BB brunch is brought to you by Moiyattu Banya-Keister through her media brand Women|Change|Africa  and it is sponsored by her communications company WCA Creatives. Moiyattu has over 12 years of experience in developing programs, brands, for women and girls and will apply her communication background in amplifying the voices of female owned brands through her platform Women Change Africa a sisterbrand to WCA Creatives. It is Moiyattu's hope to bring an intimate group of women together in various cities to help them tap into their purpose and reach their fullest potential. 

What will participants gain?

By the end of the workshop participants will have developed or received critical feedback in strengthening a full brand profile, received tips on how to improve or start their story telling digitally online, and develop a network of women interested in increasing their brand presence.

Where is the event?

This event will be held on Wednesday, June 20th in Freetown Sierra Leone at the Swiss Spirit Hotel from 11am-1pm.

Who should be there?

Female entrepreneurs & professionals who are interested in learning how to position their brand online, reach their target audience, whilst being authentic.

What is the cost and what does it cover?

The workshop costs Le 275,000. The workshop will cover the price of workshop materials, professional feedback and hands on learning to improve your brand, lunch, and a professional profile photoshoot by a professional photographer to enhance their brands. 

Why branding?

In today’s world with so much noise in the digital space, it is important that whatever we are providing to our clients, or our online community is not only meaningful but it is authentic personable and represents who you truly are. Branding is what helps you connect to the right audience, branding helps you position yourself for the right opportunities. We live in an online world as much as an offline world, branding is the bridge to ensure you are living your truest self offline as well as online. 

What should you expect? 

The workshop will feature industry professionals, a Pop-up Power Chat by  Ms. Nadia Sasso A professional who has had significant success in the field of digital branding to share some insights, the workshop will also feature hands on exercises with critical feedback to enhance your brand.

Anything else I should know? 

This will include a raffle for a 20 minute 1:1 branding session with WCA Creatives our partner Communications Firm. 


We look forward to hosting you soon! Grab a friend, clear your lunch/brunch schedules and see you soon. 


                 

Monday, April 9, 2018

Edwina Kulego is Building the Beauty Industry for Women of Color through her Lipstick Brand



As part of our African Women Build Series, we interview  Edwina Kulego, owner of Essentials by Edwina a vegan cruelty free lipstick line in partnership with Celfie Cosmetics.  We Admire Edwina's passion and drive for entrepreneurship. With her recently launched beauty line, we have a chat with her on business, life and success. 




WCA : Who was Edwina Kulego growing up?

I was very curious and inquisitive while growing up which resulted in my desire to constantly read books. My mother bought toys for my older brother and books for me. I remember when I got my first encyclopedia, I was so happy and excited to learn new things. I had the opportunity to travel a lot across Europe while young so my love for culture grew at an early age.

My mother was a single mom who started her business by doing hair at our home. Her efforts eventually lead to opening the first salon and beauty supply for Afro hair in Malmo, Sweden. I spent a lot of time with her in the salon; learning how to service customers and how to handle finances. I am very grateful for that experience as I now realize that it gave growth to the business savvy side of me.

WCA: Tell us about Edwina The brand and the businesses she now owns?

In 2017, I realized my passion for creating positive business solutions and value for women. It came to me in the most effortless and genuine way. I found myself surrounded by so many wonderful women with great business ideas who were seeking my advise on different things.

This passion now manifests in various efforts; mentorship, consulting, and partnerships. My partnership with Celfie Cosmetics resulted in the launch of my first beauty collection “Essentials By Edwina” a three color vegan lipstick collection designed for busy women on the go. I wanted to create something simple yet luxurious that every woman could wear.

I am also working with FASH:ED, a Fashion support network and resource hub based in London. I have the privilege of mentoring a fashion designer over the course of 6 years. It’s been a great experience so far.

Edwina Kulego as a brand is still evolving which is very exciting. I am finding myself in great spaces, being exposed to amazing people, places and ideas. I am currently working on my second beauty collection with Celfie Cosmetics launching Spring / Summer 2018.


WCA: With all the amazing things going on around you, how do you balance business life and pleasure or having a self-care check in?

I was blessed with the gift of carrying a child this year; it is the most wonderful surprise I’ve ever received. Realizing that I am going to become a mother and being responsible for another human being has definitely put things in perspective for me.

Before getting pregnant, I was under the impression that I made time for myself but after stepping back and evaluating I realized how much I actually worked. In industries like entertainment and fashion it’s easy to mix business with pleasure. For example, I am always networking and connecting even on vacation or at a party. It’s important to be conscious of that balance and switch the worker bee off in order to enjoy the moment.

In finding balance I have also learned to “take back my weekends” by actually doing that I love; taking walks, reading books, or having brunch with my girls. I used to utilize my weekends to catch up on work that I missed and I have decided to no longer do that, unless it’s imperative. A great tip is to make plans and book them in your calendar so you don’t forget to have some fun, go to the spa and actually take care of yourself.


WCA: What are your biggest accomplishments so far?

Becoming a mother, I am due this spring but my experience being pregnant has been the most life changing time for me. Connecting with this life inside of me is just unreal. Moving to New York by myself at the age of 19 will always be a big accomplishment for me. Launching my own brand has definitely been a great entrepreneurial and learning experience and I am really excited to continue growing the brand.

WCA: how do you stay up to date in the entrepreneurial world ?

By connecting with my entrepreneurial peers and reading articles and books that pertain to new ideas and developments. I am also writing my first book this year, which is extremely exciting. I have grown so much as an entrepreneur by sharing therefore I think it’s time to put some of my experiences in writing.

                                           

WCA: What keeps you going in times of challenges

Having conversations with my mother, Beatrice Morton. The never-ending support, and wisdom that she provides is priceless. When times get tough she reminds me of the curious little Edwina and she keeps me going.

WCA: What is your message to young African women wanting to start their entrepreneurial journey whether in fashion or beauty or any other category?

My message would be to try and be as specific as possible with your goals and business plan. There will always be competition around you but when you narrow down your idea into a specific need that’s when you have something powerful and unique.

Another piece of advice that I would share is the importance of knowing your customer. It’s key in getting successful results from your endeavors. Knowing the behaviors of your ideal customer, Where they shop? What they do in their spare time? What social media platforms they are on? Etc.



WCA: Tea or coffee?

I enjoy tea but coffee does the trick for me. I love the caffeine kick in the morning before starting my day.

WCA: Lipstick or eyebrow?

Lipstick for sure. A bold lip can turn any frown into a smile. One of my favorites is Shiraz from the Essentials By Edwina collection.

                                               
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